Choosing nine councillors out of 26 possibles is a daunting task and we would urge everyone to take the time to look at information online to help them in their choice but there are some key issues which need consideration.
Firstly is the issue of local monetary and spending policy. Are we financial “wets” or financial “dries”. Do we believe that borrowing for infrastructure spends, given the low rates of interest, is a good idea, or do we prefer a more tightly controlled monetary policy that looks to reduce borrowing and focuses on council basics such as roads.
There are no right answers here; it is a matter of financial philosophy.
Next, do we think that Bega is the centre of our universe? Well that will depend on whether you would like to see development elsewhere around the shire in other towns or whether you prefer to see your local town remain in its current state. Both answers have further implications of course when we consider jobs, traffic, noise and facilities.
Now we come to swimming pools, which particularly for those inland, are important pieces of recreational infrastructure. But there is a price to be paid for keeping ageing pools open for a small number of users. Bemboka pool, for example costs about $68,000 to run each year and the level of patronage results in each user being subsidised to the tune of $22.89.
Finally in our short list is the matter of communication and transparency.
This was a major subject of discussion at the last council election in 2012 and here we are in 2016, still raising it. It was seen as such an issue that six months prior to the 2012 election, one councillor said he was concerned that the public was being excluded from closed sessions of council workshops.
If you want to understand the nitty, gritty of council decision-making you need to hear the arguments and witness the thrust and parry as matters are debated. However we can’t because there is little or no debate in the council chamber at meetings. Much of what happens at meetings is the sanitised version of the workshop.
Whoever is voted in, the shire is about to undergo some radical changes with the Eden Wharf, Merimbula Airport and Merimbula bypass works all due to have significant effect during the next term of council.
And whoever is voted in will set the financial and development policy for the shire for the next four years, something that will touch us all in our daily lives and possibly impact the future of our shire as a whole.
BITE-SIZED INFO: Your quick guide to the candidates and their three word summaries
A SIZEABLE SNACK: Photos and candidates views in 200 words each
THE THREE-COURSE MEAL: Full report of the candidate forum
THE HORS D’OEUVRES: Our guide to how the votes are counted
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