Nillumbik councillors agree to sign Public Transport Users Association East West Link open letter, exhibit draft budget

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Diamond Valley Leader: Nillumbik councillors agree to sign Public Transport Users Association East West Link open letter, exhibit draft budget. Megan Bailey. 30 April 2014

Nillumbik Mayor Michael Young says the council’s policy is to advocate for public transport and walking and cycle paths over building roads. Picture: Richard Serong. Source: News Limited

Nillumbik’s Mayor will sign an open letter asking the State Government to prioritise public transport over the East West Link.

Councillors voted to accept the Public Transport Users Association’s invite to sign the letter, but declined to fork out $2000 towards publishing it in the Herald Sun at last night’s Nillumbik Council meeting.

Mayor Michael Young said advocating for public transport and walking and cycle path over building roads was in line with council policy.

Cr Young said he was “comfortable” in signing the letter.

“The State Government and (the) Opposition are big enough to hear our opinion and we are going in to bat for our shire and it’s in line with council policy,” Cr Young said.

Every councillor except Meralyn Klein supported the motion. Cr Klein said the association was a “political protest group” campaigning against the government.

“If we want to be taken seriously by whatever government is in power then we need to have a direct discussion with that government,” Cr Klein said.

“Council is … not a puppet to a protest group.”

The council has previously indicated its opposition to the link. Councillors voted in support of Yarra Council’s Trains not Toll Roads campaign in August last year.

Meanwhile, councillors agreed to publicly exhibit the council’s 2014/2015 draft budget, which proposes a 6.65 per cent average rate increase.

The results of a Metropolis Research community survey of 500 residents, which found the community’s satisfaction with the council was at 61.6 per cent, down 4.3 per cent on last year.

Councillor Peter Perkins acknowledged the drop but said some of the main concerns people raised — such as main road traffic congestion — were State Government issues.

Councillor Ken King said the effect of the council’s $4.6 million superannuation liability on last year’s rates could have led to the drop in approval.

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