Council welcomes survey

GREATER Taree City Council yesterday welcomed the decision of Lyne MP, David Gillespie to survey the community about its perception of council and road funding priorities.

"I am very encouraged that Mr Gillespie is 'Fighting for Better Roads' by inviting community participation," Cr Hogan said.

"This is what we all expect of our local members, no matter the level of government. I would encourage the community to respond loud and clear that not only do we require the $12.5 million allocated to us in 2010 to be reinstated, we also want, as Mr Gillespie clearly wants, "more" funds for better roads.

"I hope that Dr Gillespie takes the results of this survey to the very top and fights for this community. We at council look forward to the outcome of those increased funds."

However, Cr Hogan expressed concern about Mr Gillespie's communications with council.

"It continues to disappoint me, that Dr Gillespie persists making statements about council through the media without having a conversation with us," Cr Hogan said.

In particular, Cr Hogan challenged Mr Gillespie's comments about council following the January 8 release of the 'The Road Map to Financial Sustainability for Local Governments in NSW Report.'

Mr Gillespie has stated that the report highlighted the fact that "unless it (Greater Taree City Council) develops and commits to a plan that provides a pathway to financial sustainability its asset networks and the service levels it offers will continue to develop" and that "he was concerned that council may be ignoring the warning signs and poor performance issues, seeking instead to obtain additional grant funding in place of implementing decisions that delivered best practice and savings to ratepayers in the delivery of council operations."

Mayor Paul Hogan challenged Mr Gillespie's references to the report.

"The report details a case study of two councils, one of which was Greater Taree City Council. Recognising the financial predicament we find ourselves in, and seeking external support to better manage our situation, led us to voluntarily participate in this study along with Wakool Shire.

"Dr Gillespie neglects to inform the community that the report makes commentary about two council case studies in the context of the study of councils in NSW in general."

Mayor Hogan said council "has for some time questioned the State and federal frameworks that seek a conforming culture for local government and which create significant constraints for councils."

"We understand all too well that as long as we are prepared to stand up and speak out on behalf of our community, we may be singled out by our local members," Cr Hogan said.

"We also know we cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time, but because we are here in the community every day, the one thing we know that would dissatisfy all of our residents is if we sat on our hands and accepted the world that is shaped for us by the other tiers of government.

"Each year NSW Local Government releases a report on cost shifting from state and federal to local government, and each year the dollar amount and the level of responsibility and expectation to deliver increases. We are therefore bouyed by the recently released Local Government Review Panel's report to the NSW government that speaks volumes about a broken system in need of repair in terms of funding models and levels of responsibility, no change is not an option."

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