Service Fees, Outages,
& the Election
Our Village Hostesses, being the front office for our ILU residents, have received a number of comments on the service fee increase for this year. As we tried to explain in the service fee letter, last year’s fees should have increased by an extra $10 per month from our increased costs, but this was offset by the receipt of the one off discount in water rates paid in previous years. This simply resulted in delaying part of last year’s increase to this year. To put this into context, our water rates in 2017/18 were around $55,000. For the last 12 months, we were charged $166,000 – a 300% increase in 2 years!
Even with that increase, the test that we use is based on our service fees as a percentage of affordability for a person on the single aged pension. In 2017/18, our service fee increased by $10 a month, and the pension (with allowances) increased by $40 per month. Likewise, over the last 12 months, the pension has again increased by $40 per month whilst our service fee has increased this year by $28.
Whilst we take no joy in advising residents of a significant increase, the only thing we take some comfort from is that our service fee continues to be less than 30% of the pension and unlike many other Villages, our service fee includes contents insurance, Council Rates and 24 hour onsite staff.
Two weeks ago, our phone / internet / email carrier, AAPT, had a major outage from Victoria to Southern Queensland. Naturally this would occur on a Friday afternoon. The problem was finally identified on Saturday with one of their major cables being cut on a secured building site. According to the updates that were provided to us, they were trying to access the site to work on the issues and also considering relaying the cables around the site. Eventually a heavy drilling team, cable deployment team and cable splicing team were required to lay new cables and finally on Sunday around lunchtime, the service was again up and running. It would be true to say they had a lot of unhappy customers- including us!
Whilst all of the major carriers have suffered from the same or similar problem, it does make you wonder how bullet proof are these systems and what can they do to further secure their networks.
No doubt, some residents will criticise us for not advising residents as to what was happening but all we knew was that it was down. You naturally expect something this major will be fixed in a timely manner, but it took some time for the network provider to identify the issue. On Saturday morning when we knew more, we placed a notice in our Community buildings as to what was occurring as best we knew and updated our social media pages to ensure that Residents who check our facebook and twitter pages (and there are a lot !) could see what was happening. This was the best we were able to do on a weekend with both phones and internet unavailable to us.
Then the following Friday (of course) we had another outage affecting only some residents. This time the problem was ours as one of our computer cards had burnt out. Fortunately, we were in the process of replacing that card, but it did mean that our technicians worked throughout the night to restore services to all affected residents. We are extremely grateful for their commitment to the Village to do this. I was advised on the Saturday afternoon that they believed all was now working normally.
I live in hope that the next few Fridays will be uneventful!
Finally, a couple of words on the election. An interesting outcome and certainly not the predictions that were being made beforehand. If you look back over our history, our elections are usually reasonably close – mainly in the range of 47% – 53% for each of the major parties. This is a relatively small range so the result is always affected by the more marginal seats in every electorate as to how their constituency perceives the Government of the day. As always we will work with both our local member and the Government of the day to raise issues of importance to the Village and Aged Care. We trust that the Government will be able to look after the interest of all Australians and ensure that together we can advance the country.
Till next month
Stuart Shaw, General Manager