Neglect and a lack of forward planning.
Geraldton has a long history of failing to maintain its assets and the effects of this have really become apparent of late. Remember the Flores / Place Road intersection, the crumbling Recreation Ground grandstand, the derelict railway station building (Tourist bureau) and the completely run down CBD footpath network?
Previous leaders of our City did nothing about these for many years. Rob Jefferies was CEO of Geraldton for 7 years! It was after his period that Tony Brun and our current CEO Ken Diehm began rejuvenating the City. I was on the selection committee to appoint Ken and have complete faith in his ability to deliver on the budget cutbacks required to balance our budget.
This year the City identified savings of $3.6 million. Imagine if the City had of done that since the amalgamation in 2007, which was supposed to deliver savings. That equates to more than $30 million by the end of this year. Think what the City could have done with that money! We could be debt free and we could replace every piece of playground equipment that has recently been removed. We could even have kerbside recycling.
Calling for the budget to be returned to surplus means progressively maintaining assets, to ensure they last longer and getting Council back to the basics of roads, reserves and rubbish. It is nice to have grandiose motherhood statements on vibrancy and economic development but until you can get your basics right it will all be for nothing.
Hiking up rates by the crazy 27% in 2012 and then asking for a further 7.2% the following year is the lazy way of restoring the budget and hurts the very people we are elected to serve. We must live within our means and continually look for ways to do more to ease the financial burden on ratepayers. This means making strong decisions in regards to services and our administration.
Let’s not return the bad old ways of the past, let’s look forward and change our City for the better.
Shane Van Styn
Candidate for Mayor for the City of Greater Geraldton
Written and Authorised by Shane Van Styn, 51 Gregory Street Geraldton WA 6530