How good will the next elected Council be?
Dungog Shire's fortunes will only be as good the quality of councillors elected on 9th September for a term of three years. It will be a time of critical decision-making. We need the very best candidates we can muster. My message today is, “Find community leaders, bright lights who are commercially savvy and love their Shire, and convince them to stand.” The Council is a business – a not-for-profit business with a social conscience - but it is a business, with responsibility for over $300million in assets and a turnover of some $20million per annum. That's pretty big in anyone's language. So we need the best brains and hearts of the Shire to lead us. This is not the time for apathy. It's not up to someone else, it's up to you.
What IS that $13million you have in the bank?
There was much laughing and dancing in the corridors at our glamorous Council headquarters last week because some chatter on Facebook suggested that 'the majority' of the $13million Dungog Shire Council has in the bank is for staff entitlements for our 65 staffers.
So what is the $13 million for? Well, as 'restricted funds' it cannot be used for anything except its intended use. In broad terms it consists of about $6 million held for the betterment of a wide range of facilities such as sports-fields, parklands, library and swimming pools etc., as well as waste management. The other $7 million is money retained for special projects, grant monies (roads and bridges) yet to be expended, plant and vehicle replacement and a host of other smaller categories – and staff entitlements (ah yes but less than $1m – sorry guys).
'Silly Season for Grants'
In the words of Assets Manager Steve Hitchens, down at the Council depot it's 'silly season' for Grant applications. There are no less than seven funding streams being pursued by Steve and his team right now and in the next couple of months. Most are grants from the flush-with-money State Government, and one from the Feds. They range from Black Spot Funding to Boating facilities and studies, many multi-million dollar applications for Bridges renewal – that's the big one, covering Brig O'Johnston, Coulston, Spooner, Bullockeys, Wheelabout and Tillegra. Then there's the Fixing Country Roads, which is aimed at facilitating freight runs and transport priorities. Don't hold your breath, though, with one grant application from last year still yet to be determined.
What to do with your soft plastic wrapping
Talking of Grants, Paul Minett, Manager Environmental Services with Dungog Council, has achieved another Funding Grant which will help you deal with all your soft plastic packaging. Up at the Tip at the end of Short Street in Dungog there's a 'purpose-built baling shed'. What's that? Well, it's a twin-chamber contraption which 'bales' soft plastic.
“Soft plastics, those that can be scrunched in your hand, have traditionally been rejected by recycling processors,” says Paul, “so now there's a solution. Just save them up and bring them to the Tip – no cost.”
What’s important to you?
Don't forget Councillor Tracy Norman's weekly drop-in Session. At the Poll with the election on 9th September you can express your preference about a path forward for Dungog Shire. She wants to know what is important to you for the future – or any other council-related matters you would like to discuss. Drop in any Friday 9.00am-12.00am at the Festival Lounge in Dowling St, Dungog, opposite the IGA. (Or call 49921862 to make a different time or place).
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