MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has been unable to turn around results from a satisfaction survey last year that saw it rated at an “all-time low”.
The same survey taken one year later on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has registered an overall performance score of 50, three less than in the 2022 Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey.
The latest survey said “perceptions” of the shire’s overall performance had declined in the past two years, “reversing the stabilisation … experienced from 2014 to 2021” (“Shire hits ‘all time’ low in satisfaction” The News 5/10/22).
It said perceptions of some service areas “are trending downwards and at the lowest levels recorded”.
While municipalities across the state had also seen declines in satisfaction, the shire’s overall performance was “significantly lower” than average.
“Perceptions of council’s overall performance declined significantly this year among women (index score of 50, down six index points) – but not significantly so among any other cohort evaluated,” the survey reported.
“Geographically, overall performance is rated highest among residents of the Briars ward (index score of 53) and lowest among residents of Nepean, Red Hill and Watson wards (48).”
Although not mentioned in the summing up of results, the shire’s downward trajectory has occurred since the October 2020 elections which saw the election of eight new councillors.
Only three long serving councillors remained in the 11-member council, and one of those resigned within six months. Two other councillors have since resigned, one after being elected as a state MP and the other for “personal reasons” (“Third councillor resigns from shire” The News 21/122/22).
All three mayors since the November 2020 election have been from Briars ward.
The latest survey shows 25 per cent of residents rate the value for money they receive from the shire in infrastructure and services provided to their community as “very good” or “good”, but 31 per cent regard value for money as “very poor” or “poor”.
The mayor Cr Steve Holland last week told The News that “recent benchmarking” showed the shire “remains one of the most efficient councils in Victoria compared to similar councils”.
“The shire continues to deliver a balanced budget every year, has low debt and has the eighth lowest rates out of 79 councils in Victoria,” he said.
“It is disappointing that the perception survey results do not reflect the Mornington Peninsula’s national reputation as a popular destination with a high performing, multi-award winning local council. Just this week in Canberra the shire won a national road safety award.”
Holland said the shire received less money from the federal government than other municipalities.
“We have a passionate, dedicated councillor group and approximately 70 per cent of the shire’s employees live on the Mornington Peninsula. They are all working tirelessly to deliver for our local community and, as always, we are committed to continuous improvement.”
Holland did not answer the question: What do you think council can or should do to improve the shire’s public standing?
Cr Susan Bissinger said she was hoping the survey would lead to “an honest appraisal” of the shire’s poor performance.
“The only way I can see this council improving the results of the survey is to honestly evaluate where we are going wrong, find out exactly what the community wants and try and align more to the community we serve – same as last year,” she said.
“I would love to see the people of the peninsula asked to speak up with how they feel, what is important to them and how they think improvements can be made so that there is a clear, unmistakable directive from them.
“Perhaps even a survey.”