Message from the Mayor: 19 May 2023

Published on 19 May 2023

Hi, I'm John Connors, Mayor of the Dungog Shire, bringing you this week's mayoral message.  

Wednesday night was the monthly council meeting and unfortunately, once again, we saw a development application withdrawn at the last minute. This application was an attempt to regularise an unauthorised animal boarding and training establishment near Vacy. Whilst the application was withdrawn, and there were still issues that arose as a result of the activity and its impact on the community. The consequences of that, where that Council resolved to immediately take enforcement action to prevent the continued illegal activity and to that end, Council has instructed its solicitors to take the appropriate proceedings as quickly as possible.  

On a lighter note, the Council Meeting saw the public exhibition of the Draft Operational Plan and Budget for the forthcoming financial year. I encourage people to look at this document, it's available on Council's website, and it sets out in some detail the budget and where the money's going to be spent over the next twelve months. It caters for capital works program of an excess of $42m, that is something that will be very difficult for Council to deliver because of its limited manpower and limited ability at the moment to engage contractors to carry out the necessary works. But, please look at it and please comment on any issues that cause you concern or issues that you think or areas where you think money could be more appropriately spent. And I repeat, the document is available on the Council's website and it's on exhibition for a period of 28 days.  

The Council also, at its meeting, adopted the Economic Development Plan for 2022-26. This document has previously been on exhibition, and the adopted document takes account of the submissions that have been made by the community during that exhibition period. Prior to going on exhibition, the document whilst being drafted by consultants, was also informed by a committee that comprised of council officers, councillors and members of the community. So that document again is on Council’s website, and it's now been adopted by Council and that sets the scene, the plan for economic development throughout the shire from 2022-26.  

The Open Space and Recreation Plan came before Council on Wednesday night in its draft form, and that document is now on exhibition for a period of 28 days. I encourage you all to read it, again, it's available on Council's website, and make any submissions you wish with respect to what you consider to be deficiencies or inaccuracies in the plan. The plan is intended to set a platform, set a program, set a plan for the use of Council’s open space and the development, if necessary, of sporting facilities throughout the shire and the utilisation of those facilities. So, it's a very important document and I encourage you to please give Council your input in the exhibition period which is a period of 28 days.  

There was before Council, a mayoral minute, dealing with the government's imposition of a very significant increase in the emergency services levy. This is a levy that Council is required to pay to the state government for the provision of emergency services. It's a blatant cost shift from the state government to the local council and to the ratepayers because the rates are the only source of money to pay this levy. It’s increased by 53% which is a very, very significant increase for Council. It takes up almost 1/3 of Council’s allowable increase in rates. So the benefit of the increase in rates is reduced by 1/3 down to 2/3. So, the resolution of Council was to join with other councils throughout NSW and support the Local Government NSW advocacy strategy to try and put pressure on the government to try and ameliorate, if not eliminate, this levy and particularly the increase that's been imposed this financial year.  

I think that's the bulk of the news from this week's Council Meeting. There are, of course, continued roadworks throughout the shire, those that impact most, I suppose, the continued works in Hooke Street in Dungog town and those at Park Street in East Gresford. And whilst in East Gresford, there was before Council, a tender for the pavement works on Durham Road in a East Gresford. The tender that was before Council wasn't accepted, however, the General Manager was authorised to negotiate with the tenderer in an attempt to reach a satisfactory outcome to enable those works to progress, as soon as possible.  

So, with those few remarks that’s week for me. So until next week. Good luck. Goodbye. 

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