COUNCIL UPDATE: 5 things we learned from SDRC this week
COMMUNITY submissions were considered by the Southern Downs Regional Council this week during a series of special budget meetings that were closed to the public.
The Daily News reached out to both Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi and council staff for further explanation as to why meetings regarding ratepayer spending were held behind closed doors, however no response was ever received.
Those who made submissions, however, revealed requests for greater events spending and more amenities for small towns, such as kerbside collection.
Here is what we learnt from the past seven days, with links to the original stories.
Following the recent relaxation on outdoor event numbers, Warwick Show and Rodeo Society president Gerard O’Leary said planning was continuing “as normal”. The news came after the closed SDRC meeting on Tuesday, in which The Warwick Show and Rodeo Society made a draft budget submission to Southern Downs Regional Council. According to Show and Rodeo’s events and marketing co-ordinator Teilah McKelvey, the proposal involved a plan to “work collaboratively with council for the betterment of our events”.
Years of frustration were unleashed upon the former council CEO David Keenan when a 61-year-old Killarney man decided he’d finally had enough. Warwick Magistrates Court was told that Peter Lesley Smith became “agitated” while visiting the SDRC’s Warwick chambers in late February, and grabbed Mr Keenan around the neck, threatened to hit another council employee with his walking stick, and briefly struggled with a police officer who had tried to intervene. Lawyer Peter Sloane said while Smith conceded to “losing it” during the altercation, the frustration stemmed from dozens of unresolved complaints about incorrect rates charges and dog attacks on his own small dog.
A SERIES of special council meetings, conducted on June 16 and 17, invited submissions for spending in the 2020/21 financial year budget, and included proposals regarding Jumpers and Jazz, kerbside collection, and the Warwick Rodeo. Staff were allegedly told not to broadcast the meeting to protect the privacy of the public representatives and because “it was similar to a briefing session.” This seems to contradict earlier assertions from Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi, who pledged to open briefing sessions to public scrutiny as part of his election campaign.
Rural residents were invited to reap the rewards of a new $1M water tank rebate scheme offered by the Southern Downs Regional Council this week. The rebate offers rural landowners 10c per litre cash back, to a limit of $2,500, on the purchase of a new tank. But only the lucky stand to benefit. After filling out an expression of interest form, residents will enter a draw, leaving the eventual allocation up to random chance. Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said this was a necessary step to “allocate the available funds fairly and equitably”.
Kerbside collection could be on the cards for the Southern Downs after one passionate resident advocated for its inclusion in the council’s 2020/21 financial year budget. Diane Walsh said she has been waiting over ten years for the council to resume its kerbside collection service, as rubbish gradually accumulated in her backyard. “There was one a few years after we moved (to Mt Colliery) 14 years ago, and I’ve been waiting for the next one ever since,” she said. Councillors thanked her for her community-mindedness and said they would investigate whether they could allow for the added expense in the budget.