I READ with interest an opinion article, “Council model fails to deliver”, by Laurie Taylor in The West Australian, August 8, portraying the concept of the “corporatisation of local government” titled, “Council model fails to deliver”.
Mr Taylor was a councillor and mayor for 12 years at the City of Nedlands and holds a business master degree.
In his article, Mr Taylor used the analogy of local government, as “a company with a board (elected councillors), chair (president), and executive (CEO and other), responsible to shareholders (the community – ratepayers)”.
He writes “in corporations, the boards usually comprise highly regarded, qualified and experienced individuals.
“This provides assurance to shareholders, that the board will provide guidance to the executive on the running of the company.”
However, he notes, “the board must have more extensive and fundamental experience than those they are overseeing”, otherwise the executive has the ability to misguide and misdirect the board and potentially not act in the best interest of the shareholders but their own.
Mr Taylor asserts, “one of the central weaknesses in local governments, is that the individuals who become presidents and councillors, sometimes do not have the business skill sets or business experience to oversee the financial and other capacity of the councils to which they are elected”.
It is unfortunate the many councillors (particularly newly elected) are being mentored, advised and manipulated by the executives they should be overseeing.
Mr Taylor also notes “it appears these highly rewarded executives relish unlimited income by increasing rates and levies instead of driving efficiencies, pushing down costs, perks and salaries”.
In his observations, many local government executives are “myopically focused on increasing their budgets and staff as this invariably affects their remuneration”.
He states, “Councils are powerless to stop it and ratepayers do not know what is transpiring as there is no disclosure”.
We are very fortunate in our council to have people of varying skills and backgrounds who want to make a difference and are prepared to take the difficult, tedious and consuming time to service the community.
The Toodyay community has been made aware of a lack of increasing services despite huge rate increases over the past few years.
The Toodyay Council is very aware of this phenomenon and has the power to act in the interests of the ratepayers.
The council also has some very skilled, business-minded councillors who have shown researched alternatives that would definitely work but it appears they are blocked in their endeavours.
Toodyay needs a system where management is rewarded for delivering cost-efficient quality services rather than delivering huge increased costs.
It would be helpful if the community felt councillors were working together, rather than having the perception that council is manipulated by the executive.