23 Dec Mayoral Update
A Facelift for John Tucker Park
Our State Local Member, Michael Johnsen, announced this week that we are the recipient of a $690,000.00 grant for John Tucker Park in Paterson, as part of the NSW Government’s Stronger Communities Fund. This beautiful park is the most visited park in the shire, for locals and visitors alike. The money will be spent on a new amenities block, BBQs and tables and chairs (all to be sited away from the flood zone) and accessible walkways throughout the park. Well done to Steve Hitchens and team and to Tracey Lowry for all the work they put into writing grant applications. It’s great when we get a win.
Other groups in the shire have also received grant money announced by Michael Johnsen this week. The Clarence Town Bowling Club, Dungog Clarence Town CWA, Dungog Common, Dungog and District Community Centre and Dungog and District Chamber of Commerce were all recipients of various funding.
Free Degrees for Students
Michael has also announced free university degrees are up for grabs for budding young teachers, as part of a NSW Government initiative to attract the best teachers to the bush. Scholarships will be on offer in 2018 to fully fund the university degrees of 60 new teachers, paying their HECS debt if they accept a posting at one of more than 150 eligible rural and remote public schools. For more information and advice on application dates, go to: https://teach.nsw.edu.au/find-teaching-jobs/choose-rural
Hunter Councils Strategy Day
The Mayors and General Managers (GMs) of the 10 Hunter (and Mid Coast) Councils held a strategy day last Thursday to set the future direction of the Hunter Councils. Advocacy; regional cooperation for tourism and other business opportunities; supporting innovation and using Hunter Councils as a first port of call for information and to forward the aspirations of its member councils, were all high on the list of priorities. Issues regarding transport, accessibility to health services, education, and youth employment were some of the commonalities found among most member councils. There will be a follow-up meeting in February, where a list of priorities for Hunter Councils will be determined.
The Hunter Councils Joint Organisation (JO) will be formed next year and Dungog Shire Council will have an opportunity to join. Hunter councils have been a part of a pilot JO scheme. A report regarding the benefits of membership will be in the February Ordinary Meeting of Council.
Review of the Community Strategic Plan (CSP) and Special Rates Variation (SRV)
As reported last week, Councillors met with Martin Bass to formulate a strategy regarding community engagement around the CSP and SRV. We have agreed on a method of engagement, and have given Martin the go-ahead to put an implementation plan together that will begin in February.
We also met with Mark Anderson regarding the recruitment of the GM. We have decided to wait until after the meeting with Port Stephens Council to work out a recruitment plan, as the result of this meeting will determine the type of GM that we need to recruit.
We have been invited by the Minister for Local Government, Gabrielle Upton, to undertake a reassessment of our Fit for the Future status. Previously the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal found Dungog Shire Council not fit for the future. We are working towards an improvement plan for this reassessment. If we are found fit we will be able to access Treasury Corporations loans at a lower than commercial rate.
Glen William Public School Presentation Day
I had the great honour of attending and awarding some prizes at the Glen William Public School Presentation Day. This school is the proof that “Little Schools are Great schools”.
The Australia Day Committee, in association with the Dungog District Community Centre, is calling for nominations for all of those who helped out during and after the April 2015 superstorm. Please contact my office on 49921862, or call into the Festival Lounge or Community Centre, or email the name and address of someone you’d like to thank for helping out in any way to:firstname.lastname@example.org. All nominees will receive a certificate of appreciation.
Meeting with Port Stephens Council
A delegation from Dungog Shire Council met with Councillors and the GM from Port Stephens Council to discuss a future direction between the two councils. PSC has ruled out a merger, however, we are discussing ways the two LGAs can cooperate and can develop a shared services model. I will provide more information as the concept develops.
I’d like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday period, and a very Happy New year. Regular programming will continue after the Sydney Cricket Test.
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