MidCoast Council hosts community information session

COUNCIL: Interim General Manager Glenn Handford discusses the merger in Bulahdelah. Photo: Kevin Carter.
COUNCIL: Interim General Manager Glenn Handford discusses the merger in Bulahdelah. Photo: Kevin Carter.

MIDCOAST Council’s first series of community meetings came to an end last week with the final session held in Bulahdelah.

There was a strong turnout from the local community with Administrator John Turner, Interim General Manager Glenn Handford and eight council representatives present.

Mr Handford told the local crowd the “triple merger is a very complex situation.”

“You have three different councils, three different sites and three different cultures to merge into one,” he said.

“The measure of success will be how this council moves from administration back into elected representation.”

Although MidCoast Council has only been operational for six weeks, Mr Handford said they are developing a “structure that will best deliver the services that the community wants and needs.”

“One of the challenges we are going to face is prioritisation, we only have a certain amount of resources and we have to figure out the best way to spend that money,” he said.

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The Council will receive $5 million for merger and $15 million for infrastructure projects, with $1million going to “not-for-profit groups to build more vibrant sustainable communities.”

Mr Handford said the money will be spent efficiently and effectively and he intends to meet with the community regularly to explain Council spending.

Residents expressed concerns over the disparity of rates in the MidCoast Council area with rates in the former Great Lakes currently higher than in Taree and Gloucester.

Mr Handford said “perhaps the rates in Great Lakes are at the level needed to deliver the services that people want.”

Questions raised by community members present related to service delivery in regards to local projects, including the grading and replanting of vegetation at Upper Myall Road and the overall efficiency of the Council.

Community member Kevin Carter said it was an informative meeting.

“Everyone got a good understanding of how complex the Council situation is,” he said.

“We also got confirmation from Council that some outstanding local projects will be completed.”

Further update sessions will be hosted by Council every six months to keep the community fully informed about the progress of the merger implementation.

 

By Daniel SAHYOUN

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