•Fremantle Has Highest Financial Risk Factor
•Brad Pettitt Top of the Financial League of Mayors
•Government Advise Ratepayers: ‘question council performances
Statistics, published in The West Australian (17th April 2018), show Dr Brad Pettitt has become the highest paid mayor in Western Australia.. These figures are confirmed by Fremantle Council’s accounts and exclude various allowances.
Additional statistics, published in WA Government’s Financial Health Index (FHI), show that during Dr Pettitt’s tenure the City of Fremantle has fallen to the lowest position in the State with a Financial Health Index figure of 44
In two of the immediate past three financial years the city had a low score of 42 and 44. In the Financial year of 2016-17 the score was also very low but the city changed its accounting methodology and elevated the FHI to 87. At that time Treasury issued a statement saying: ‘We stand by our original figures’.
Top Mayoral Salaries are:
The Financial Health Index of those Councils show:
The higher the score, the better the financial health of a council. These scores are an indication of financial management and of services offered to ratepayers. They show ratepayers’ their value for money.
It is interesting to note the second lowest performance is Nedlands with an FHI of 50. Fremantle based consultancy LewiCorp Pty Ltd, owned by Chris Lewis who spearheaded the failed ‘Keep the Dockers in Fremantle’ campaign, is shown as being paid as a council adviser in the accounts of both Fremantle and Nedlands. Lewis was also instrumental in a fundraising campaign for Dr Pettit’s first mayoral campaign.
GOVERNMENT ADVISES COMMUNITIES TO QUESTION COUNCIL PERFORMANCES
The WA Government website <https://mycouncil.wa.gov.au/Council/CompareAllCouncil> advise to ratepayers states: “A very high or low FHI may be a prompt for questions to be asked by the community about a local government’s revenue, expenses, and service delivery. The FHI is best viewed as a trend over time”
ACADEMIC THEORY- ARE THE CHOOKS COMING HOME TO ROOST ?
When Dr Pettitt was first elected mayor he stated: ‘. . . I’m delighted to be able to put my academic theories into practice in Fremantle . . . ’. but has never detailed his academic theories. After nearly ten years in the top job, and based on the performance of council under his leadership, the theories must be questioned.
A ratepayer-funded, multimillion dollar, public relations campaign has failed to halt the slide in the city’s fortunes. The campaign includes websites, newspaper advertising and a magazine which has ceased publication after council admitted it has failed.
There is a growing impatience among ratepayers and businesses, a very high proportion of whom have closed shop and left or are struggling to pay higher rents and increasing rates in the face of falling customer numbers.
The city’s east end now has approximately 80 vacant retail premises with no sign of the resurgence of business promised as a result of the development of a Woolworth’s shopping centre (now prematurely closed). The increase of trade from residents expected from new developments have not materialised. Anectodal evidence indicates the LIV apartments are about 50% occupied following an increase in service personnel taking up residence..
In the instance of the re-development of Atwell Arcade the mayor promised that 300 people would be employed in the new offices. That was three years ago. So far there are about 40.
Without knowing Dr Pettitt’s academic theories it is difficult to comment but there is scant evidence of their success. There is no questioning Brad Pettitt’s youthful enthusiasm but after ten years it is reasonable to question the efficacy of his theories.
Over the next few weeks Fremantle Backchat will examine issues related to the current failure of the city to improve its financial position.
Part Two: Next Week. Council’s Lack of Transparency
Roger Garwood, Editor. <email@example.com>