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From the Mayor's Desk - 29 April 2017

Over the last few weeks, plenty of meetings, Anzac Day Services, watching the sun dance at sunrise, the Binnaway Races and a fund raiser at Baradine.

Tuesday April 11 I attended the Sir Ivan Mayors Bushfire Appeal Advisory Panel meeting held at the Jubilee Hall in Dunedoo.  At this meeting the Guiding Principles of the Fund, Terms of Reference and Public Fund Rules were all adopted by the Panel who will now go about gauging assistance required by the bushfire victims and hopefully be able to supply or contribute to supplying those requirements.  We also learned that the number of homes destroyed has climbed to 39 with 131 other buildings also being destroyed during the fire.

Sunday April 16 my wife Julie and I hosted a number of Elders and young people from our Aboriginal community at our home to watch the “Sundancin” sunrise on Easter Sunday.  It is much easier to watch the sunrise on our hill than to climb to the top of Forky Mountain in the early morning darkness on Burra Bee Dee as the other members of the community do each year. At the end of the day Julie and I talked about having a “Sundancin Festival” over Easter incorporating the Bunny Bazaar but also embracing Aboriginal community celebrations on Easter Sunday. The name itself should engender all sorts of great activities, competitions and community involvement.

Tuesday April 18 I attended the Health Council meeting in Coonabarabran.  At this meeting, we heard the programme for reinstating parts of the hospital that have been closed due to the effects of water entering the building during the extraordinary heavy rainfall earlier in the year and the remedial works being undertaken to prevent the likelihood of this happening again. 

Thursday April 20 was the monthly Council meeting held in Coonabarabran.  One item covered at this meeting involved a report on the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) impact on Council Investments.  Prior to the GFC Council invested $15 million in 16 Capital Floating Notes and Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO’s) with time frames ranging from 5 to 10 years.

Post GFC many of these investments did not pay interest and although Council did not lose any of the principal it invested it made no money from the investments.  To have terminated any of these investments before full term would have resulted in loss of part of the principal invested as a penalty.  Total loss over the 5-year period from 2007 to 2012 was around $ 2.8 million. 

On another issue, back in 2009 Council borrowed $1 million for the Mendooran Water Augmentation Scheme.  The towns people agreed to repay the debt with an extra $431 on their water access charge, giving them a water access fee of $861 compared to the rest of the Shire paying $385.  The debt would be repaid in 2022.  With 5 years remaining until the debt is repaid Mendooran water ratepayers feel that the amount is too high and is negatively impacting on the local economy.

Four options were put to Councillors:

  1. Spread the repayments over another two years (7 years) resulting in a decrease in extra payments from $431 to $295 per annum for Mendooran.

  2. Spread the repayments to water ratepayers across the Shire for 5 years resulting in an extra payment of $35 per annum for them.

  3. Spread the repayments to water ratepayers across the Shire for 7 years resulting in an extra payment of $24 per annum.

  4. Status quo remains.

Council determined after Option 1 was lost to write to IPART to seek guidance on what Council is permitted to do.

Monday April 24 I attended an Association of Mining Related Councils (AMRC) Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) working party meeting in Coonabarabran.  At this meeting a cents per ton model of saleable coal and a worker domicile model were discussed to accommodate the contributions to infrastructure and community enhancement.  This has proved to be one of the areas of difficulty in formulating a template to aid both Council and Mining Companies in VPA negotiations.

Tuesday April 25 I attended and laid wreaths on behalf of the community at both the Dawn Service and the Anzac Day March in Coonabarabran. Both very solemn events with good attendance to remember those who returned and those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday April 27, I attended the Traffic Committee meeting held in Coonabarabran. At this meeting the committee examined the safety of the Napier Lane/Purlewaugh Road intersection; crash history and information from site triangles was presented and the committee requested some tree removal to improve the intersection sight distance.

The committee also determined to take no action on a request to build ambulance pull over areas on the Mendooran Dubbo road.

Friday April 28 I chaired a meeting of the Central West Regional Weeds Committee held in Dubbo.  At this meeting, we reviewed the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan after consultation feedback, made several changes to the draft which will be presented to the Central West LLS for endorsement before being presented to the Minister.

Saturday April 29 my wife Julie and I and Councillors Brady, Todd and Lewis attended the Dennis Frater Memorial Meeting held by the Binnaway Jockey Club.  It was a good day of racing with large fields and many former Binnaway residents returning for the day.

In the evening Councillor Brady and Julie and I attended the Baradine Pre-School Fundraiser held at the Baradine Town Hall.  Councillor Brady and I were part of the judging panel for Baradine’s “Thank God you are here” amateur comedy night and what an hilarious night it was.  Four great sit com sketches, plenty of one liners, a large appreciative crowd and hopefully plenty of money raised for the Pre-School.

Till next time.

Last Updated: 04 May 2017