Independent candidate Greg Riley believes that improvement is possible only when a business faces up to the reality of the situation.
“No amount of hiding from the facts or false optimism will lead to improvement,” he said.
“Council is not fit for the future; this was determined by the State Government based on submissions from Council.”
Mr Riley said that an infrastructure backlog, caused by the council maintaining assets with insufficient funds. means that Dungog faces a financial challenge beyond its current resources.
He also said that this has resulted in council staff having “little time for strategic issues while the backlog continues to grow.
“These were detailed in the General Manager’s report of 1 May 2017 and include the Shire-wide DCP review, Rural Lands Strategy, Section 94 Plan, Workforce Strategy, Social Planning and many others.”
Mr Riley believes that even if the community votes for amalgamation, a willing partner may not be found.
“Whether a merger does or does not occur we need an immediate extra $20m to fix or replace ageing infrastructure and progress the outstanding strategic and service delivery issues,” he said.
The third problem Mr Riley noted is that even an unrealistic rate increase of 10 per cent will provide only $500,000 in extra funds.
“Much of Council’s expenditure is on roads. But our roads are largely used to produce food for city populations. It therefore makes sense that our roads should be paid for by government, not shire ratepayers.”
“We cannot allow under-investment in the Shire’s economy to erode the Shire’s economic future,” he said.
“Dungog requires additional funds to develop strong economic plans and promote economic development.”
Mr Riley said that resources need to be allocated to increase revenue, as “billions of dollars are available from State and Federal Government to local government, business and community groups for a huge variety of investments.”
He said the council should have specific people focusing on grant submissions to attract government, community business and farming revenue opportunities.
“For too long Dungog Shire has accepted that we put up with poor roads, dysfunctional bridges, under-resourced services and inadequate planning,” he said.
“Council and senior staff need to have a vision of a strong and successful Shire, with adequate resources, efficient service delivery and well managed roads and infrastructure. Above service delivery must be a strong economic strategy.
“We have a fabulous Shire, and our communities deserve the best. Council must lift its expectations and go about securing the necessary resources.”