A 9News budget analysis of 27 major councils has revealed Moonee Valley is spending the most on staffing costs: 52 per cent of its revenue went towards employees.
By comparison, just 4 per cent of revenue was used for roads and 2 per cent for parks.
Banyule Council is also among the worst offenders, spending more than 45 per cent of its revenue on salaries.
It’s a slap in the face for ratepayer Sharon Bowden, from Heidelberg West, who lives with a disability that requires a service dog and a motorised wheelchair.
The 57-year-old says the cracked and caved-in footpaths around her Mulberry Parade home puts her safety at risk and her complaints to council have fallen on deaf ears.
“It’s a disgrace. It needs to be kept up to standards so it’s accessible to everyone, including people like me and people using walking frames,” she said.
Recently, Mrs Bowden became stuck in a crack and almost tipped off her chair.
“It was embarrassing. It was a relief I had people to come and help me because I would’ve been stuck there for quite a while. I could’ve seriously hurt myself.”
In the 2020/21 budget, Banyule Council allocated just over $2.5 million for footpaths in the area, just 1.65 per cent of its revenue.
Ratepayers Victoria President Dean Hurlston is demanding benchmarks be introduced to prevent overspending on staff.
“It’s not good enough. Some councils have spent almost double other councils (on employees) and what that highlights is massive inefficiencies in staff budgets,” Mr Hurlston told 9News.
“What we’re really concerned about is some councils say: ‘we need to raise rates to deliver better services’, but the reality is more than 50 per cent of the rate rises councils are enjoying across Victoria goes to staff increases alone.”
Mr Hurlston says council CEOs who earn more than $400,000 annually should take a pay cut.
“They’re no more efficient than someone in a private enterprise earning half that money running double the number of staff,” he said.
“What we have seen is just sheer abandon and waste in these salaries.”
Councils Darebin, Moreland, Monash, Yarra, Glen Eira and Brimbank also spend a disproportionately high amount of revenue on staff.
The CEO of Moonee Valley Helen Sui told 9News the reason the council spends so much revenue on employee costs is because most of their services are delivered via in-house staff.
“This, in turn, leads to a higher staffing cost compared to other Councils,” Ms Sui said.
“Moonee Valley, along with most inner-metro areas, has experienced a spike in population growth in recent years that is set to continue.
“With this growth comes an increase in need for council services which are powered in-house by staff.”