Letters 23.5.20

That’s not all
YOUR article “Staff Cuts Revealed” (Voice, May 16, 2020) did not fully portray the work the City of Vincent has done to support staff and the community during the pandemic.
The city has maintained full employment for all permanent employees which is consistent with many other local governments.
We were heavily impacted by the closure of Beatty Park Leisure Centre which is a large regional facility with many staff casually employed to deliver classes, coaching and pool safety – some for a few hours a week.
The Beatty Park closure resulted in a nearly $2 million loss in revenue for the last quarter of this financial year and local governments are not eligible for JobKeeper payments. These two factors have made it impossible for the city to sustain the full casual workforce. However, we have provided every casual employee with additional pay and ongoing assistance if they are experiencing financial hardship.
Over the last two months, 28 people were offered redeployment to work in other areas of the city. Maintenance and improvement projects have provided meaningful work for other employees within existing teams, avoiding the need for additional redeployment.
We are excited to re-open the doors of Beatty Park this week in line with the Phase 2 easing of restrictions and look forward to returning staff to work as we follow the State Government’s road map to recovery.
The City of Vincent has made available up to $1 million in Leederville Garden trust funds to charities to support the most vulnerable in our community – and we are offering grants of up to $10,000 for local artists in an arts relief project from cash-in-lieu percent for art developer contributions.
Our highest priority is supporting our community and staff during this difficult time.
David MacLennan
CEO, City of Vincent
The Ed says: Suggesting casuals got “additional pay” is a contradiction in terms given they’d just lost their jobs. The city’s Covid-19 Relief and Recovery Committee Agenda of April 21 also clearly states that 33 “permanent” staff “have been stood down”.

Well done
I COMMEND Vincent council in trying to make savings wherever possible and that includes standing down workers when they are not required. (“Staff Cuts Revealed,” Voice May 16, 2020)
The other way to look at it, is to ask whether or not we want Vincent council ‘dreaming up’ jobs to keep people employed and whereby this effectively means ratepayers subsidise an economic response.
Some would say it is clearly the state and federal government responsibility to determine any economic response.
I completely understand the argument that ‘we must do whatever we can to help people’.
My comment about any council economic subsidisation is basically an ‘in principle’ argument. In the real world people need help.
I have written to council to ask about rate relief for ratepayers. And not just for a few, but for all of us.
I have written to council to ask about staff using accrued long service leave because too many staff accrue too much leave and it has a negative effect on the council’s liabilities going forward.
More recently I wrote to ask about the ‘dreaming up jobs’ issue but I have not received any response.
I have been looking at how council formulates its rate amounts and hopefully we ever-suffering ratepayers might be excused from any rate rise this coming July.
Making savings is essential to this process.
However, the other side of the coin is excessive expenditure and I am led to believe that to move the council main desk from the admin building to another location cost an almighty $205,000.
Perhaps someone forgot that they are supposed to operate in the real world. That figure is clearly ‘unreal’.
In this current climate it is a good time to discuss rates and other fixed costs that impact upon the average household.
To own a house is nearly not achievable for some people and not merely because of mortgage payments or employment opportunities.
I can see we are moving into a situation of many households being asset rich (owning the house) but cash poor (too many costs related to the keeping of the house).
I can remember as a teenager the situation where little old ladies owned rather splendid houses in Dalkeith and Nedlands but had big problems every year raising the amount payable for rates and the like. I always saw that as a sad thing as our society progressed.
But now I am talking about this very effect here in Vincent.
There is the ability for ratepayers to NOT pay the rates and council is able to get that money when a property is sold (usually after the death of the ratepayer).
But really, should we be going down that track at all?
Now is a very good time to have a real good think about what we want our council to do and what rates should be levied. There is no inherent law that says council rates cannot move down. Maybe by some miracle they will.
Colin Scott
Deague Ct, North Perth

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