RURAL Councils Victoria chairman Rob Gersch has welcomed a State Government survey stating Victorians had greater satisfaction with their councils than they did in 2012.
The Local Government Services Report found that 19 per cent of respondents believed the overall direction of councils had improved, a one per cent increase since 2012.
Most of the people surveyed believed councils had maintained their standard – 63 per cent voted as such.
Thirteen per cent of respondents believed the quality had deteriorated, a two per cent decrease from the previous year’s 15 per cent.
Five per cent could not say.
Cr Gersch, Hindmarsh Mayor, said he believed small councils had a strong bond with their communities.
“The councillors in particular know most of their council’s residents,” he said.
“They have lived in the area, in some instances, for a long time.”
He said the awareness councillors in small shires had about the community’s issues and their hands-on approach to addressing them contributed to their constituents’ satisfaction.
“That’s the secret of rural councils,” Cr Gersch said.
“Councils are the ﬁrst port of call for people when an issue arises.”
Cr Gersch said he believed the Wimmera’s councils did an extremely good job, but could improve by talking to the community more.
“We need to be continually talking with our people, ﬁnding out what our community wants and trying our best to do something with that knowledge,” he said.
Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said the survey results also indicated 69 per cent of residents believed councils were heading in the right direction.
He said 20 per cent of respondents believed their council was heading in the wrong direction, three points fewer than the previous year.
“It is no surprise that 92 per cent of residents believe there is room for improvement and there should never be a point at which any government can sit back and say they’ve got it all right,” Cr McArthur said.
He said the survey results might suggest residents wanted more of a say in matters being decided at state and federal levels.