Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2014 12:01 AM
To: MP ZAINAL SAPARI
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Subject: 20140301 S & CC should not be increased when TC has surplus
Attn: MP Sapari
Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council
Dear MP Sapari
I refer to “Eight PAP town councils to raise service and conservancy charges from 1 April”. link
The reasons cited for the increase in S & CC are “rising cost in electricity, lift maintenance and other operations and maintenance”.
That costs have gone up is undeniable. What is strange is the town council has been running surpluses EVERY year and insists on maintaining surpluses which are eventually transferred to the sinking fund. The town council could only have achieved surpluses by:
1 Cutting back on projects.
2 Residents have been overpaying for years!
Mr Leong Sze Hian has highlighted the issue of surpluses being the norm every year for many town councils.
|Town Council||Surplus for the year||Accumulated surplus||*Surplus transferred to sinking fund|
|Ang Mo Kio||$1,793,752||$6,280,934||$12,826,802|
Many residents do not understand why the surpluses have been transferred to the sinking fund. From my understanding, 35 per cent from my S & CC contribution has already been set aside in the sinking fund for major cyclical works. The surpluses are meant for more improvements or if they are not needed, returned to residents. It is not up to the town council to decide where our money goes.
Healthy surpluses EVERY year mean our town council has sufficient funds and therefore an increase is clearly not justified. The reason that “such surpluses have been in the decline over the years” is a lousy excuse and not acceptable.
Including the surpluses transferred to the sinking fund, the total surplus for our estate is already almost $18 million. Why does the town council insist on unnecessarily increasing the sinking fund perpetually?
Suggestion for cutting cost
In 2013, a contract was awarded to Theng Liang Lee Services Pte Ltd for an amount of $583,488 to supply 10 cleaners for 2 years. link Including the 13th month AWS and CPF contributions, the total amount spent on a cleaner is $2,244 per month. I would like to know the actual amount earned by these 10 cleaners. The cleaners are not town council employees and are therefore easily exploited by their employer. Unless almost the total amount is paid to the cleaners, the cost of labour would appear to be excessive. This would also indicate a high commission paid to the middleman.
1 Couldn’t the town council save money for residents by cutting out the middleman?
2 Accepting only 2 tenders appears to have driven up cost. Perhaps there could have been some issue with the contents of the tender that prevented the participation of other parties.
I will look into other issues to provide more suggestions for cost cutting.
S & CC increase targets only larger estates?
The S & CC increase appears to be targeted at town councils with a higher number of residential units like Pasir Ris-Punggol which has about 92,000 link , Ang Mo Kio, etc.
Economy of scale?
The managing agent of our town council is EM Services which manages about half a million HDB residential units. link The fact that other (smaller) town councils have not raised their S & CC confirms there is no economy of scale.
It makes no sense to continue pumping more money into the sinking fund and repeatedly offer the reason of increasing costs to justify a raise in S & CC. The reduction in surplus is another equally lousy reason for a hike.
As a resident, I am totally disagreeable to my past S & CC being transferred into the sinking fund while forcing me to accept an increase in the S & CC. Do not ride roughshod over residents and remember that the town council works for us and not the other way around. I will continue paying only the existing S & CC amount.