Why I voted against the council budget

[By Sue Bolton] The draft council budget was voted up on May 22. On May 23, right-wing councillor Ali Irfanli wrote on Facebook that I had voted against public consultation on the Moreland Council budget.

I voted against the draft budget because I disagreed with some measures in it. I certainly don’t oppose public consultation on the budget. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am consistently the councillor who most pushes for genuine consultation with residents. 

Ali’s criticism implies that it is compulsory for councillors to vote for the draft budget. The draft budget is negotiated behind-closed-door meetings that the public is not involved in. To imply that a councillor must vote in favour of a draft budget on the basis of secret negotiations carries the implication that open council meetings in front of the public are being treated as a rubber stamp.

Voting in favour of the draft budget is an endorsement of all of the measures in the budget. The point of a vote on the draft budget is to indicate if you agree with the contents of the budget.

In the Yarra council, socialist councillor, Stephen Jolly voted against their draft budget because it included a bin tax on top of their rates. His vote gave the community the confidence to campaign against the draft budget’s bin tax. Now the Yarra councillors are asking for an alternative budget without a bin tax.

If the majority of councillors were against some particularly objectionable elements of a draft budget, it would be a sign that the draft budget needs to be changed.

Throughout the last council, I have been very consistent in voting against budgets which increase rates above inflation and fees and charges above inflation because minimum wage workers and people on pensions and benefits aren’t getting increases above inflation. Recent figures indicate that many workers wages are declining and not even keeping pace.

While there are some millionaires and rich people who live in and own property in the Moreland area, there are also a lot of pensioners who worked hard in factories and bought their houses at a time when houses were cheap. Now that they are on an aged pension, the developers and financial speculators have driven up the cost of housing and therefor the value of housing.

Rates are based on the unimproved valuation of land. A pensioner who owns one house and has little in the way of other assets should be treated differently to the developer who just speculates on land value or the landlord with multiple houses.

Moreland’s current draft budget includes fees rises for occasional childcare and creches of  between 9+% -10+%.

Click on this link if you want to read the draft budget and for details about putting in a submission to the draft budget:

  • Tuesday 20 June, 5pm: Deadline for written submission to draft budget
  • Monday 3 July, 6pm: Speak at a council meeting on Monday 3 July in support of your submission. Meeting held at Coburg Council Chambers (enter via the rear entrance in Urquhart St)
  • Monday 24 July: Final vote on council budget