Return Of Ryde’s Conga Line Of Consultants – Starring Big Spending Bill



Councils spend big on staying slllall I James Robertson, Leesha McKenny Does merging councils save money? It depends who you ask - not to mention who is doing the asking. Sydney's councils are sharpening their arguments against the state government's plans to reduce their number, before they formally submit responses at the end of June to show why they should merge or continue as they are. Critics say the main beneficiaries have been management consultants .. Manly and Pittwal<!r - two councils that oppose amalgamation - sioned consultant KPMG last month to run the numbers on how the councils would fare if merged with Warringah. KPMG found about $54 million in savings over the next decade. That number was markedly lower than an earlier report, commissioned by Warringah itself (one of Sydney's staunchest amalgamation advocates). The consultant SGS put the savings at a minimum of $250 million. A 1ocal government academic (and critic of amalgamations), Professor Brian Dollery, ran the numbers a third time at Manly's request. His 10(}.page report did not put a firm value on the effect of amalgamation, but warned the councils' finances would "deteriorate". The northern councils have not dis­ c1osed how much these reports cost. But it is not unusual for a two-volume analysis of the kind produced by KPMG to run at more than $200,000. Professor Dollery, who has done paid analysis for Sydney councils and voluntary for some regional councils, says the looming June deadline has been "springtime for consultants". Modelling by Morrison Low, commissioned by five inner west councils, cost about $100,000. A report prepared for councils on Sydney's north shore cost a similar amount. All of which is chump change given the money some councils have found to shout down the options put forward by a $1.8 million review panel commissioned by the state govemmenl Ryde City Council spent $317,000 building its case against a proposal that wou1d see it split and absorbed into its neighbouring councils. amount includes $125,000 on submissions and $97,000 for a "publicity campaign". The council also approved an extra $100,000 this week to create a new staff position primarily to deal with the Fit for the Future reforms. Ryde mayor Bill Pickering made "no Ryde mayor Biii Pickering, a matter of "survival". apology" for a what he said were meas­ ures "for the survival of Ryde". "The risks associated with destroying Ryde are so much greaU!r [than] $100,000 for a (publicity] campaign over 12 months," Cr Pickering said. Ryde's $417,000 budget compared to tbe entire $98,000 spend by the stal<!'s richest council, the City of Sydney, which also opposes amalgamations. Councils are required to consu1t their communities while preparing their submissions, a process which is often undertaken by polls or surveys. Micromex, a polling company, confirmed to Fairfax it was conducting about a dozen polling projects on be­ half of councils. Reams of previous market research commissioned by councils have detecU!d consisl<!ntly high support within the community for paying more rates.

Convincingly Concussed Bill Pickering Spendiing Magabucks on his Congaline of Consultants

Download  PDF: SMH, May 2-3, 2015 – Councils Spend Big on Staying Small_cropped_highlight

It’s on again ladies and gentlemen – Big Spending Bill is chucking away lots of ratepayer money to – who knows? Last time this happened was when his sidekick John Neish was GM at Ryde and more than $5m was spent on a Conga Line of consultants which Neish fought tooth and nail to conceal from the ratepayers. Party, party, party…… with your money!

It’s important for Pickering to win this unwinnable fight – there’s the benefits to be enjoyed of the Twin Tower civic precinct monstrosity to be enjoyed – whatever they may be.

The gravy train’s back on the rails it seems!


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