Is Wodonga’s debt spiralling out of control?

Kyudos has to go to David Johnston of the midweek Xpress for his piece on concerns by the Victorian Auditor General and local residents and buisiness-people alike about wodonga council’s ability to service their current level of debt.

He writes…

Wodonga buisinessman Eric Pietila has called for an independant audit of the city’s finances in the wake of Peter Marshall’s resignation as council chief executive officer after 13 years.

Concerned at the high level of debt being carried by Wodonga council, Mr Pietila said the replacement CEO and a new council to be elected in November were entitled to know the true picture of the city’s finances.

Earlier this year, Victorian Auditor General Des Pearson raised concerns about Wodonga’s $26 million in borrowings and it’s ability to service the debt.

Wodonga was listed by Mr Pearson among 18 councils at moderate risk.

“whoever fills his shoes needs to know the true picture as to what liabilities the council has” Mr Pietila said.

“I think they (council) have been a bit secretive because there is a lot of debt out there.”

“He (Marshall) was certainly pro-development but whether it is the role of council to be out there developing and being the umpire and player at the same time is the big question I have”.

Ratepayer’s association spokesperson Geoff Burton said he was also concerned about the level of debt being carried by Wodonga.

“He (Marshall) has done a lot of good for Wodonga, let’s not deny that, but it has been at huge cost”.

In stark contrast, the Border Mail ran what can best be described as a glowing review of the outgoing CEO. 

It’ll be interesting to see if Peter Marshall is so fondly remembered when the bill arrives I guess. Given the rising interest rates that seems to be foremost in a lot of people’s minds. This could be a sign of trouble ahead.



About alburywodongaonline

Hi I'm Jack Stone (a pseudonym), I'm a long-time Albury resident and I think it's a great place to live and work. I have a strong interest in local events and media and I started this site because I think a different perspective is often needed when reporting local news. I take a keen interest in local politics, as well as what's going on at the state and federal level, I'm also a supporter of social justice issues, the envirionment and the need for people to have a say in the events that effect their lives. I'm a fan of the Border Bandits and I'd love to see both teams take the flag this year, and next year, and maybe the one after that too.
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16 Responses to Is Wodonga’s debt spiralling out of control?

  1. Tim Ramsey says:

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

    Tim Ramsey

  2. JR says:

    This is the second time this ‘debt issue’ has been raised. It’s all about whether the debt is serviceable (sustainable). The CEO and the mayor keep saying that the other side have got it wrong and give as their reason that there has been no proper valuation of infrastructure like the Logic Centre @ Barny North.

    From where I stand, it might be wiser for the debt defenders to submit something more than just the same old rhetoric, like actual dollar numbers to dismiss the critics.

  3. raydixon says:

    Have you ever tried to make sense out of a council’s accounts? They seem to have an entirely different method of reporting and I’d defy anyone to understand the real situation. Unfortunately you only ever find out if there’s a big black hole when the stuff finally hits the fan and by then it’s usually too late to do anything about it.

  4. I couldn’t agree more JR, I think in the current climate of worry over the debt’s servicability and the perception (earned or otherwise) that the council has been “a bit secretive” their ONLY option to salvage the trust of the community they were elected to serve is to disclose their current financial position and detail a plan to repay the amount owing.
    Anything less is going to merely fuel the speculation about the actual size of the debt and Wodonga council’s ability (or inability) to repay it.

    I think a lack of transparency in local government and overspending are clearly two separate problems but in this case they seem to have occured simultaneously, much to Wodonga council’s detriment.

  5. Ray I’m hardly a financial analyst, but what you say about council accounts is correct, and speaks to a lack of transparency that I mentioned.

    Surely the input of the Victorian Auditor General would have to start alarm bells ringing though. If only in terms of investor confidence.

  6. raydixon says:

    AWOL, what about the Wodonga council-led “brainstorming” session they had at Wodonga this week over “problems with business & tourism”?

    End result: “the drought and rising petrol costs are affecting the economy in general”. F…en brilliant!

    F….en brilliant indeed. I wonder what the total of the bill handed to Joe and Mary ratepayer for THAT little fiasco was?
    More than the $1.20 or whatever the purchase price is of a copy of the Financial Review from which they could have sourced the same information I’ll bet.

  7. JR says:

    More effen brilliant than some Alpine Opinionated dude spruiking about imaginary “redneck” habitats in Albury Wodonga?

  8. raydixon says:

    Yeah JR, I would never have thunk about the drought & petrol prices.

  9. JR says:

    So let me get this straight, if the great RD can’t thunk of it, it can’t be right then?

  10. raydixon says:

    “The great RD” (and anyone with even half a brain) wouldn’t need to think about it, it’s rather obvious isn’t it.

    BTW JR, I’m actually a big fan of Wodonga.

  11. JR says:

    Oh s_ _ t, Ray! Now you’ve done it. You’ve eliminated me rather cruelly! I’ve got feelings I’ll have you know.

  12. raydixon says:

    You know what JR? You’re coming across as a bit of a stalker (I’m not just referring to your posts here). It’s all very well of you to have a go at someone while you’re using an alias – gee that takes real guts – but your constant harassing is … well it’s constant harassing. Haven’t you got anything better to do?

  13. JR says:

    Geez, thought the “redneck” hint would have given it away, Ray. But then I guess you’re not one to thunk.

    Half a brain indeed.

  14. raydixon says:

    I made that connection as soon as you said it, JR, I know who you are. But what’s your beef, the “redneck” send up I did on Wodonga’s redneck events? Gee, what a cad I am. Get over it.

  15. clearly I haven’t been privvy to all pertinent events in this dispute, but from an outsider’s perspective this is sounding rather like a lover’s tiff.

  16. raydixon says:

    Lover’s tiff? No, I think JR is pissed off with something I wrote about “rednecks” in Wodonga.

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