Council functions to be limited as Local Government election approaches

Coffs Harbour City Council will enter the caretaker period from Friday 6 August as the region’s Local Government Election approaches. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

COFFS Harbour City Council will enter the caretaker period from midnight on Friday 6 August in readiness for the upcoming Local Government Election on Saturday 4 September.

The caretaker period occurs during the four weeks preceding an election and during this period restrictions are placed on some of Council’s functions.

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Council cannot make significant new policies or decisions that could unreasonably bind a future Council, or use public resources in election campaigning or in a way that may improperly influence the result of an election or improperly advantage existing councillors as candidates in the election.

Council’s Local Government Elections Caretaker Period Policy states that the following functions of a council must not be exercised by the council or general manager during the caretaker period:

  • Entering a contract or undertaking involving the expenditure or receipt by the council of an amount equal to or greater than $150,000
  • Determining a controversial development application
  • The appointment or reappointment of a person as the council’s general manager or the removal of a person from that position

Council will be debating the controversial sale of the Coffs Harbour City Council Chambers in Castle Street to help fund the Cultural and Civic Space project at its next Council meeting on Thursday 22 July, just before the caretaker period commences.

Council has been offered $7.25 million for its two-storey office buildings at 2 Castle Street and was set to make a decision on the sale at its last meeting on Thursday 8 July, however a last minute offer for the buildings on the day of the meeting saw councillors resolve to vote on the sale at the upcoming Council meeting.

In terms of decision making, the Council and Council officers cannot make decisions on the acquisition and sale of land, adopt or amend the Coffs Harbour LEP, adopt or amend policies, strategies, masterplans or frameworks, adopt a revised budget, allocate grants or awards to individuals or organisations, endorse submissions to government or public bodies, or hear submissions from the community.

Ordinary Council meetings will continue to be held during the caretaker period, with Council meetings during this timeframe set to occur on Thursday 12 August and Thursday 26 August.

At these meetings, Council will not consider petitions, joint letters and deputations, there will be no public forum for speakers from the community to address Council at the meetings, no questions on notice from councillors, no notices of motion, no mayoral minutes, and no matters of an urgent nature to be addressed by councillors.

Council will also limit community consultation and engagement during the caretaker period to issues that are not controversial.

The Mayoral Column and other similar media publications and engagements will also stop during the caretaker period.

The public will be able to post comments on Council’s social media sites, however, comments referencing election candidates or the 2021 election will be removed.

The Coffs Harbour Local Government Election will be held on Saturday 4 September after being delayed for a year due to COVID restrictions at last year’s scheduled election.

 

By Emma DARBIN

One thought on “Council functions to be limited as Local Government election approaches

  1. This is just a copy and past poorly done you forgot to put the most important part “the council will vote on this sale at their next meeting on 22/7/2021 just “before the caretaker part starts”, ,so it will probably be sold, to read this story one would think the vote cannot be done till after the elections .

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