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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial June 30th 2023

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Between a rock and a hard place. Eurobodalla Council has recognised that, unless they change course, we will be dashed upon the same shores that are now seeing other Council’s such as Bega and Snowy voting on special rate increases in excess of 40%. Eurobodalla Council is us. They run on our rates, our fees and charges, and our taxes. If prices rise for council they rise for us. If it is more expensive to reseal a road then that means we can only afford to reseal less roads. The same goes for mowing, replacement of playground equipment, boat ramp maintenance and even dunny maintenance and replacements due to old age or vandalism. Every time Council is hit for more money we are hit. So it is important that the elected watch every penny to ensure our rates are spent wisely. Overseeing all of that, on our behalf, are councillors who, one would hope, put their hands up saying “Vote for me and I will do my utmost to ensure your rates are spent wisely and that the Council best serves its residents and ratepayers”. When we vote for them we hope they come through with their promises. But do they? Most hopefully do. I say hopefully because the only means we have of knowing if they are actively representing our best interests is by way of witnessing their participation during Council meetings, public forums and public access sessions. Alas some sit there mute whilst others indicate their failure to do the minimum of reading required in order to make an informed decision. This week saw our councillors given the annual task of voting a pay rise for themselves. The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal determined they could have an increase of 3% to mayoral and councillor fees for the 2023-24 financial year, with effect from 1 July 2023. In June 2022 Council set the 2022-23 fees at $21,100 for each councillor and an additional $46,040 mayoral fee. That has now increased to $26,070 and $64,390. All up, we, the ratepayers will now have to find an additional $59,506 to cover the increase. On the same day that they voted a wage rise for themselves they also voted to reduce their Council meetings down to 10 per year which is the minimum allowable under Section 365 of the Local Government Act 1993. That means that there will only be 10 Public Forums and the Public Access sessions would reduce from twice to once per month taking place on the first Tuesday at 10am. Looking in from the outside one might come to the conclusion that our councillors will be attending fewer meetings, listening to fewer community representations, and being paid 3% more. By law we are required to have Mayors and Councillors. As a councillor, our elected are expected to represent the views of the community while making decisions in their interests and plan and oversee the running of a significant and complex business. Each year, in total, we pay in excess of half a million dollars (including all the additional costs and overheads) for the privilege of having the nine elected to best represent our interests. This week we were once again assured that our councillors have email addresses and phones provided to ensure they are accessible to the community. This assurity was delivered the nearly word for word as it was when first audaciously offered in the last term when Council despotically sought to close down the portals of face to face community representation. That “assurity” of improved communication by the last term of councillors delivered no improvement. In fact Councillors were encouraged to ignore the noisy minority who should in fact be directed to write directly to the General Manager of their concerns. There are those who did, only to be thwarted with a “No further correspondence” tag and labelled vexatious and time wasters. So what of this term of councillors? Fewer meetings, more money, fewer face to face representations from ratepayers. How will they lift their performance? As a councillor our elected are expected to represent the views of the community. But how can they represent those views if they don’t return phone calls, don’t respond to emails and rarely bother to ask any intelligent questions of those who present in Council Chambers. The 2024 New South Wales local elections are scheduled to be held on 14 September 2024 . The councillors voted for their wage rise “on behalf of those who might aspire to be councillors, attracted by the remuneration”. Given that it might be in the order of $30,000 per year in 2024 that might just be enough to bring out some good contenders. In the meantime we need to see how this lot performs in the coming year as the September 2024 election is not that far away. In the meantime we are repeatedly advised they are One Team and this is Year Zero as they move to flush the toxicity, ineptitudes and fiscal legacies they, and we, have been lumbered with. That makes us members of One Team as well—best they remember that. Until next—lei


Kommentare


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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