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The known and unknowns: and councillors have no idea at all

The Beagle Editor,

Some of our Councillors are of the opinion Council shouldn’t be in business competing with private enterprise. Council is, in their opinion it seems, a protected Monopoly business extracting money from the shires residents as it requires, sees fit, and with the approval of State Government Agency’s like IPART, the so called Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

The Eurobodalla Council competes for work and work contracts on a regular basis, a lot of the Kings Highway improvement works are done by the Eurobodalla Shire Council under contract competing with Private Enterprise. They now have 450 or more Full Time Staff staff and they are forced to gainfully employ them year in, year out providing leave, sickness benefits and superannuation. As a $110m business their wages alone are 38%. When they are asked to paint a toilet it is their staff who do it. Fix a bus stand, their carpenters, service a car or truck, their mechanics. And if you do want to do any work for council as a trady or supplier you have to jump through hoops and have a $20m public liability. It is a closed shop that costs the ratepayers more than market value with ever single action they perform.

But nothing happens. There is no indication of any belt tightening. Sure they just agreed to hire a broker to buy cheaper electricity but that is their job. To save money ? or to have more money to employ more people. Why are they selling so many public reserves? Every day the Council staff are making decisions about spending ratepayers money and they are not being truthful with the councillors or ratepayers at all. They have admitted they put up the water and sewer rates every year to feed dividends back into the General Fund. That is us being gouged every year with the knowledge of the councillors and they do nothing about it. The general manager is spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to block the public access to documents over Huntfest and the NSW Department of Sport grant that they have failed to secure. What have they got to hide from the public. And the Councillors aren't even being told about it. Now we discover that Council, under delegated authority by Councillors, have spent over $7 million dollars on the Mackay Park project to have achieved nothing at all and that they are now buying out the Mini Golf because it doesn't suit their vision of the Gateway to Batemans Bay Council staff, under the councillors delegated authority, are presently negotiating a significant payout in the hundreds of thousands to the present lessee of the Mini Golf to get rid of a very well loved family facility, and a profitable one at that. Where’s the money for that coming from? It can't come from any grant therefore it has to be coming from the ratepayers. So there you have it. You and you and you and me are buying out the Mini Golf because it doesn't fit with the vision that Council staff have for the Gateway to Batemans Bay. What say the councillors? Nothing. Have they approved a budget for the buy-out? No. Will we ever get to learn how much they paid to buy out the lease. No. But the question remains. Why is council being so dogmatic about getting rid of a self supporting public amenity. This is something the councillors need to publicly explain. Meanwhile it is back to the drawing board for Concept Plan D and a growing resentment of Council removing the 50m pool from a town that the mayor continues to assure us is Moving Forward. If we are moving forward why have three stores in Batemans Bay announced they are closing their doors this week and why are there so many empty shops in the CBD? The announcement this week for the $8m TAFE for Batemans Bay has the community shaking their heads and has angered anyone involved in TAFE because there is was no site identified and Moruya TAFE, which has been downgraded through gross lack of funding over the last four years, is just down the road.

It is very clear the that no-one has any vision as staff go from one knee jerk balls-up to another and councillors are left out of the discussions and spoon fed enough to get them to rubber stamp what the Council puts in front of them without any question evidenced from their head -nodding in chambers when the recommendations are presented.

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