We need a better return on our ratepayer money | Letter

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

WE in Oberon know times are reasonable if paying work is available and our farmers and businesses are making a financial return, and if our rates are kept to a minimum, leaving more spending-power with families and individuals.

Despite good intentions of councillors and prospective candidates to bring jobs to the shire, the official census numbers do not attest to success; they show at best static employment numbers for the 10 years up to 2016 (last census); any population growth is in the 65 years and above age brackets.

Council appears to feel most prosperous when it has the maximum amount of public funds to spend and therefore never run short of occasions to remind us of the new goodies it has worked so hard to bring us - with our money, of course.

Council elections are in September and as ratepayers it is our time to have a say.

This time, let us vote for the candidates who can get us better returns for our money, not for those who promise us the most trinkets.

What can council do to promote the long-term prosperity of the people in the shire and facilitate the growth of private business?

Take action to get the best value for money in all its activities.

Prioritise the important.

Nurture council employee productivity: hire the right people and retain them for the long term.

For the five years to 2020, council spent $800,000 on staff termination pay and recruitment costs plus an indeterminate amount on associated training.

Expensive executive jobs example: We recently lost our chief financial officer - after three months in the job this time; last year, a newly hired planning director lasted just five months.

Pursue a position where it can offer the lowest and most competitive council rates, charges and fees structure.

Simplify, simplify; be easy to deal with; reduce bureaucracy; get it right first time.

Plan land use strategies so as to retain the features of Oberon Shire that drive tourist traffic and so as to retain and sustain our productive farm lands. Timber industry's resource issues should complement our farmland strategy.

Face the reality of our situation with an aging population, and seek upside in that trend. Age and associated care are business opportunities.

Aspire to be the best and most professionally run council in NSW.

The above will attract business and tourists and farmers. Most of the rest can be left to the private sector (including, I should think, adequate kindergarten places for working parents which recently became a problem because of an Oberon business closure).

Sig Sovik

| Sig Sovik intends to stand as an independent at the September council elections.