The Beagle Editor,
In recent months there’s been many negative comments made about our Council. The negative comments reflect very poorly on the shire's resident elected representatives; the whole nine of them. Some of us in the community believe the elected councillors including the mayor have let many of the shire’s residents down, simply because the Councillors and Mayor do not have a proper understanding of the requirements of being a Councillor or Mayor. The shire’s residents are the providers and employers who employ the Councillors and Mayor to act responsibly on their behalf. The shire’s residents expect the Councillors and Mayor to talk and listen to them and not be talked down to, as seems to be the case on occasions by some of the elected representatives. Councillors and the Mayor were not elected to be community dictators; they are elected to perform certain functions on behalf of the shire's residents. They are expected to be well aware of their community responsibility’s toward the shires residents and the community expectations ;
The Role of a Councillor is as follows;
1. To direct and control the affairs of the council in accordance with the act
To participate in the optimum allocation of the council’s resources for the benefit of the area
To play a key role in the creation and review of the council’s policies and objectives and criteria relating to the exercise of the council’s regulatory functions
To review the performance of the council and its delivery of services, and the management plans and review policies of the council.
2. To represent the interests of the residents and ratepayers
To provide leadership and guidance to the community
To facilitate communication between the community and the council.
The Role of the Mayor ;
to exercise, in cases of necessity, the policy - making making functions of the governing body of the “Council” between meetings of the council
to exercise such other functions of the council as the “Council” determines
to preside at meeting of council
to carry out the civic and ceremonial functions of the mayoral office
It can be seen from the above it’s the councillors who are in control of the council not the Mayor.
If groups or individuals want practical, sensible and productive outcomes from the council then what they need to do is involve all the Councillors not just one or two and perhaps the Mayor. Decisions of councillors are made by majority vote even if there’s only a quorum at a council meeting, a quorum being five.
The Mayor in the case of the Eurobodalla Council is only one person or one vote unless there a tied vote for some reason and then mayor would get 2 votes
If community groups or individuals have requests of council they need to make the requests in well prepared written submissions to all the councillors for the their consideration and
even pre-budget discussions and workshops. And what about the General Manager? Well she is just an employee who has been given delegated authority to act on behalf of the Councillors who act on the community's behalf. If the General Manager stuffs up under delegated authority then that sits on the shoulders of the Councillors. At no point should the employee be telling the employers anything other than advising them of Local Government rules and regulations. She is their tool and not the other way around. All she has to do is know the rules and correctly advise Councillors of the rules when requested and to do what she is told by the Councillors on behalf of the community. To be clear the following is from the Office of Local Government Guidelines for the Appointment & oversight of General managers: The general manager is generally responsible for the effective and efficient operation of the council’s organisation and for ensuring the implementation of the council’s decisions without undue delay. The general manager also has a role to play in assisting the governing body of council develop its strategic direction. The general manager is responsible for guiding the preparation of the Community Strategic Plan and the council’s response to it via the Delivery Program. The general manager is responsible for implementing the Delivery Program and will report to the governing body of council on its progress and conduct regular updates and reviews. The general manager is responsible for recruiting and appointing staff within the organisation structure determined by the governing body of council. The general manager is also responsible for ensuring councillors are provided with information and the advice they require in order to make informed decisions and to carry out their civic duties. The council’s internal audit function is another important internal control to ensure that delegated functions are complying with relevant policy and legislation. A well designed internal audit program should give council independent assurance that council’s internal controls are working effectively. Knowing the rules and what their roles are might help Councillors better understand what they can and can't do and whether to take advice (or check advice given as there has been a recent spate of incorrect advice given on really important stuff). Councillors could also call points of order of the mayor if they thought presenters at council meetings were being unfairly treated by the Mayor as has been the case in more recent times when the Mayor has delivered her own pre-prepared "cross examination" questions that clearly indicates a collusion with staff once the Public Spekers list is finalised at noon the day before a meeting. "So and so is speaking. What do we have on them?" This Us vs Them game has been more than evident with staffs over-preparedness of documents to refer to and to hold up. But the councillors do not react to any of this. It appears to go unnoticed and they appear ambivalent to it all and rarely offer any questions of substance to a presenter (or presenters) that might see a deferral of what what appears to be a predetermined back room decision. The game appears rigged and Public Forum appears futile. It seems, to the casual viewer in the public gallery or watching meetings via live streaming that the councillors could participate more with community presenters and, having listened and researched for themselves, follow up with motions of actions on participant's behalf as it is becoming increasingly obvious that public appeal via submissions and presentations is ineffectual. At the moment they are all but collectively considered to be nothing more than rubber stamps.
Name and address supplied