MidCoast Council Community Conversations held at Hawks Nest

MidCoast Mayor Claire Pontin, Director of Liveable Communities Paul De Szell, Director of Corporate Services Steve Embry, Councillors Jeremy Miller, Dheera Smith, Peter Howard and Paul Sandilands, Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services Rob Scott, and General Manager Adrian Panuccio.

PLENTY of local issues were brought up for discussion at the MidCoast Council Community Conversations held at the Hawks Nest Community Hall on Thursday 6 June.

In the first of two annual ‘Conversations’ events, heads of Council’s major departments, a handful of elected councillors and the Mayor herself made the long drive down from Taree.

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“We are balancing the bottom line, but financial sustainability is a historical issue, and future planning is needed for the long-term,” Director of Corporate Services Steve Embry stated.

General Manager Adrian Panuccio stressed there is a wide inequity between regional and urban council areas, reminding everyone that Council has $5 billion worth of assets, including roads and water infrastructure, which are not among the concerns of geographically smaller urban councils.

“Despite these major differences, smaller city councils receive the same grants as regional councils, and we have made submissions to State and Federal Governments seeking more equity in helping manage our asset base,” Mr Panuccio explained.

Director of Liveable Communities Paul De Szell explained several updates, including the Local Environmental Plan, Tea Gardens Pool and Library, Apex Park Jetty, and the Myall River dredge situation.

While Council is still hoping to find a local operator for the pool, a backup option has been assessed, the jetty works are continuing to the most recently amended plan, and the magnitude of red tape blocking the dredge from happening has been exacerbated by the lack of an available dredging contractor, as many have chased government dredge spending interstate.

Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services Rob Scott brought updates on the sewer rising main project, but faced many more questions on the state of recent and current roadworks.

There are several Council Plans currently up on the ‘Have Your Say’ function of the Council’s website, and all representatives of the organisation insisted that they are keen to hear more input from the community, such as at the Strategic Plan workshop to be held in Hawks Nest on Monday, 17 June.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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