South Grafton pensioner Alan Smith has racked up more than $30,000 in unpaid since buying a house about 14 years ago.
South Grafton pensioner Alan Smith has racked up more than $30,000 in unpaid since buying a house about 14 years ago. Tim Howard

Hot button and confidential issues up for decision

CLARENCE Valley Council is tackling a swag of hot button issues at its full meeting in Maclean, beginning at 2pm.

1. Pensioner's $30,000 unpaid rates recovery

THE Clarence has been buzzing since the plight of pensioner Alan Smith, who has managed to rack up $30,000 in unpaid rates, emerged on national television.

Today the council will debate how it plans to recover its rates, but it is likely to do it in confidential session as the reports involve personal financial information.

2. Action to support public libaries

CLARENCE Valley Mayor Jim Simmons will introduce a mayoral minute at today's meeting calling on the council to support action to reverse a deterioration in library funding from the State Govermment.

Cr Simmons' minute said the NSW local government sector and NSW Public Libraries Association / Local Government NSW, need to do take action to stop what has become a classic case of cost shifting from state to local government.

New Grafton Library

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
New Grafton Library Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

Despite library use growing year on year, the funding for libraries is reverting increasingly to local government.

NSW councils are currently paying 92.5 per cent of the costs to operate public libraries, up from 77 per cent in 1980.

3. Guilty plea for removal of Aboriginal Scar Tree

THE Council has pleaded guilty in the Land and Environment Court to removing an important item or Aboriginal heritage from Grafton streets, an ancient scar tree which stood on the corner of Breimba and Dovedale street, Grafton.

The scar tree before it was first damaged in 2013.
The scar tree before it was first damaged in 2013. Lesley Apps

The removal puts the council at risk of a maximum fine of $1.1 million.

Today's meeting will look at a range of remedial actions the council can take, including apologies to the Aboriginal people and putting place an interpretative display at the site.

4. Removal of ferry and cane barge from ferry park

COUNCIL will consider the latest proposals to remove two historic vessels: a cane barge and ferry from the grounds at Ferry Park, Maclean.

The ferry at ferry park which is proposed to be removed.
The ferry at ferry park which is proposed to be removed. Adam Hourigan

The council has recieved an application from Broadcast Australia to remove the vessels to a site in Lawrence.

It's recommended to defer making a decision on what to do with the boats for another three months to allow further negotiations.

5. Formation of a Grafton Regional Gallery project control group

WITH the $7.6 million State Government grant in its pocket the next step for the council is to form a group to direct the expansion project.

Grafton Regional Gallery
Grafton Regional Gallery Simon Hughes

Today's meeting will seek to ratify a group made up of the council executive; the Mayor Jim Simmons and Cr Peter Ellem; the gallery director; the gallery foundation chair (or nomination); sally waterson, manager priority projects and regions, cultural infrastructure programs management office and a project director (to be contracted).

The council would also like to thank the State Government for the grant and the Gallery Foundation for its $30,000 support to write the grant application and $100,000 contribution to the refurbished and extended gallery.



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