Potholes not politics

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Herald Sun Editorial: Potholes not politics. 27 July 2014

A lot of potholes could be filled, or roads or parks improved for $1.5 million.

The cash could even be spent helping local sporting clubs and kindergartens, or to boost threadbare services for the elderly.

Instead, the elected representatives of ratepayers in Yarra and Moreland have decided to devote this sum to fight the Napthine Government’s East West Link road project.

It’s a decision that raises further questions about the ability of some councils to manage ratepayers’ funds and put their needs ahead of politics.

Yarra raised its rates by an above average 5.4 per cent last year, while Moreland’s 4.5 per cent increase was also well ahead of inflation.

Moreland’s councillors voted to commit their ratepayers to a costly legal challenge to Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s approval of the $6-$8 billion project, even as they slashed their own roads upgrade budget by $545,000 and cut $105,000 from the council’s Christmas decorations fund.

While many ratepayers may back their councils’ push for more public transport spending, many others, like Moreland councillor and former mayor Oscar Yildiz, will question their spending priorities.

“This is ratepayers’ money and the lawyers are going to make some very big dollars from this fruitless case,” Mr Yildiz said.

“We’ve got 97 kilometres of laneways that look like s—.”

His candour is a timely reminder that councillors serve residents best when they stick to their job of providing good-value basic services rather than playing high-priced political games.

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