Council's meeting of March 9th to be a record breaker or a fizzer
The Eurobodalla Council's General Manager, Dr Catherine Dale must be looking to set new records for the shortest Council records in the Shires history. The last meeting ran for a full twenty eight minutes, nearly blitzing the current record of 26 minutes. Tuesday's meeting looks as though it might be a contender with only four items before it. The first is a presumptive report by staff of where they suggest the $250,000 NSW Government funding for community and economic resilience be allocated. With the report before councillors recommending ALL but $25,000 go into Council's purse by way of appearing to waive annual business fees whilst not affecting Council's bottom line. No doubt the councillors have all been briefed that this is the best strategy so as to appear generous whilst doing nothing. Don't expect any challenge. The next item is an Update on Eurobodalla Disaster Relief Fund. Cuncillors are being asked to do anything but note the report that outlines where donations will be distributed. The criteria has been set, the committee formed and this is just an exercise to tick a bureaucratic box for process. Again don't expect any challenge however some of the time wasters in Council my come forth with their predictable aggrandisement and smoke blowing that could threaten a new meeting record time being achieved. The third item for the day will be for councillors to vote on the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre - Mackay Park - Operating and Management Model. Councillors are being told that the new BBRAALC is currently scheduled to become operational in early 2022 and that while the planning for the construction of this facility is well progressed, the management regime for the new Centre must also be considered and a decision on that model finalised well before the BBRAALC opens to the public. They are being told that the timeframe for the recommended management model will take approximately eighteen months for full implementation and that "Council is now in a position to consider the best management model for this exceptional new facility" with the Contract Management (Fee for Service) model as the recommended option with a little sweetener in the report suggesting an option exists to include the management of the Moruya and Narooma pools to the deal "delivering potential efficiencies". While it is anticipated that this item will go through with little discussion or debate it does make one wonder what the rush is with Mackay Park considering that at the last Council meeting they rushed through a vote to proceed with the tendering process even though the Development Application approval for the project (and as yet unscheduled public planning hearing) are still in the works. No doubt the councillors have been well briefed behind closed doors and will simply lift their hands in agreement when the motion is put forward though the champions of the people, being Councilors McGinlay and Mayne, might ask why the rush and why the open intent to lock fresh councillors after September 2020 into processes that they did not agree to. leaving the best to last will be an investment to date report that usually causes councillors eyes to glaze over and to quickly vote on anything being reported. If you like this sort of thing then you might be interest to learn that Council has 100% ($117.00m) invested in Bank Deposits. The Bank Deposits are held in banks rated A or greater, or covered by the AAA rated Government Guarantee, except for $29.50m invested in banks rated below A, and in the ‘some limited risk’ category of the policy. There are $47m (40.17%) of funds invested in claimed fossil fuel free institutions. The weighted average return for all investments for the month is 1.61%, which is above the Council policy benchmark of Bank Bill Swap rate (BBSW) + 0.25% (1.14%). The meeting begins at 11am. It is also live streamed to the internet. For those in the community who sit in the public gallery for 9:30am Public Forum presentations the advice for tomorrow is don't bother as no one has registered to speak. Since Eurobodalla removed Live Streaming of Public Forum presentations and made Public Access sessions once a month instead of once a fortnight there as been a sharp down turn in attendances by both speakers and public gallery. During 2018-19 (July to June) 35 community members addressed Council during Public Access sessions, and 106 community members spoke in Public Forum on agenda items. As of June 2019, Council adopted a new Code of Meeting Practice that saw changes to Public Access and Public forum times and processes. To date only 12 have presented to Public Access and 54 speakers at Public Forum to date for 2019/2020, with only one speaker so far in 2020 and none registered tomorrow. The decision by Council to remove the public opportunity to publicly question Council in a formal environment is still considered draconian and Orwellian. The Mayor and the General Manager put it to councillors to rearrange public engagement and to isolate it for fear of "defamation and being used for political grandstanding". At the end of vote counting the motion was won and the compromised processes that have effectively killed off public engagement, communication and inclusion were left as a legacy that remain.