Warrnambool City councillor Peter Hulin says paying up to $30,000 for a consultant to gauge community feedback on a proposed rate rise is unacceptable.
Cr Hulin said he didn’t know a consultant would be used, and said council staff could conduct the feedback process themselves.
“In light of the comments made by the mayor and the information given to us in the report we voted on at the council meeting on Monday night I can’t find any mention of consultants being engaged,” he said.
“I can’t find any mention of a $30,000 figure for these consultants. The report to me as a councillor is misleading. It’s an incomplete document.
“I also believe that we have excellent staff that are more than capable of conducting consultation with the community.
“We seem to have done that with the Warrnambool 2040 plan, the Lake Pertobe master plan and the harbour.
“It’s very curious they would now engage consultants.”
Cr Hulin said there were avenues for the council to gauge ratepayer’s opinion.
“We have an opportunity through the council magazine, the rates notice that goes to every ratepayer and social media where we can get a broad cross-section of opinion on this issue,” he said.
“I have no doubt what people will be saying to our council is to start running it like a business.
“Serious efficiencies and possibly a complete restructure of the organisation is needed.
“I think also it sends a terrible message to our new chief executive officer – which is basically that we don’t believe that you can improve the financial situation of our council, to a degree that can accommodate the financial shortcomings.
“Every councillor in selecting our new CEO insisted that we get a CEO that could look at efficiencies and achieve substantial financial efficiencies within our organisation.”
The council is seeking to increase rates above the state regulated cap. It announced on Tuesday it would consider community feedback on the proposal over the coming months. In an unscientific online poll conducted by The Standard voters did not want a rise. In total 553 people cast their vote. Nearly 90 per cent (497) said they did not support a rise, while only 56 people did.