Inner West Independent

Inner West Council finances fail to satisfy residents, survey reveals

Only 29% of residents surveyed believe council offers good value for money, and 1 in 4 believe it manages its finances well. Photo: Pixabay

By KATELYN MILLIGAN

Some Inner West residents believe that council does not offer good value for money or manage their finances well.

According to research found by Inependent Inner West Councillor John Stamolis, only 29% of residents believe Council offers good value for money, whilst only 1 in 4 believe that Council manages its finances well.

The Inner West Council continues to operate at a deficit after nearly six years since the forced amalgamation of the Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield councils.

With predictions of multi-million-dollar losses over the next four years, local residents are not satisfied with the financial management of rate payer’s money.

A Council spokesperson said the council has implemented efficiency saving and the harmonisation of services in its budget repair strategy.

This includes the recent rates harmonisation process and transitioning to one rate system that has caused great dissatisfaction amongst residents who have seen a substantial rise in their rates.

Merger mess

Professional statistician Stamolis said that Council has big financial challenges ahead.

“The merger has not brought the savings and the efficiencies that we thought it was going to bring and we’re now into the sixth year and we’re still projecting deficits that are way out, so something is not working on a financial level,” Stamolis told the Independent.

Stamolis believes that the ongoing deficit is of major concern, considering the financial turmoil faced by counterparts in other recently merged councils across New South Wales.

Major deficits in the Central Coast Council budget forced the council into administration. Central Coast Council was merged under the same bid that created Inner West Council.

“We know that other merged councils have experienced problems…we’re finding that the council’s that were merged are in very difficult financial positions, and some have gone to their ratepayers with huge rate increases. Our deficits are going to have to be managed somewhere down the track,” Stamolis said.

A council spokesperson told the Independent that Council has delivered a responsible budget with a sustained focus on upgrading local infrastructure, stimulating the local economy and greening the Inner West.

“Council is focusing on long term financial sustainability and has already saved over $18 million every year from more efficient ways of working,” the spokesperson said.

The survey also revealed nearly a quarter of the survey’s 1000 participants believe that they don’t have enough opportunities to participate in Council’s community consultation. 60% of residents found Councils community engagement to be good, while 40% said it was fair or poor. Half of people (49%) regard Council as just or very just and caring or very caring. 43% were somewhat satisfied with Councils integrity and decision making. 58% of residents said they are satisfied with Council overall.

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