BAKER'S DELIGHT: The radical plan that swayed council's vote

CLARENCE Valley councillors have emphatically thrown out any plans for a special rates hike and replaced it with a radical plan to overhaul the council's debt-ridden finances.

At an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday the council refused to ratify a report from council staff on its latest attempt to meet the State Government's Fit for the Future guidelines.

Instead, it accepted an eight-point plan from Cr Andrew Baker to return the council budget to a "nil deficit" and meet the Fit for the Future benchmarks.

How the councillors came to their decision on Cr Baker's plan:



Cr Andrew Baker.
Cr Andrew Baker. Bill North

Andrew Baker: Was inspired to come up with his plan after attending a council workshop last week where councillors could identify only $307,000 worth of savings.


"We needed a circuit breaker," he said. "We were continuing to do the same things again and again and expecting a different result.

"It was an issue of how we use capital ... and finding ways of getting more money in while not driving our customers into poverty."


Clarence Valley Council candidate Peter Ellem.
Clarence Valley Council candidate Peter Ellem. Adam Hourigan Photography

Peter Ellem: A new councillor, he launched a blistering attack on the council staff, describing the report before them as "intellectually lazy and morally bankrupt".


He said he knew of ratepayers amazed the mayor could send out a letter calling for more community consultation, when the community had made its opposition to a special rate variation so obvious.

Karen Toms: Said there was a lot of scaremongering in the council report about job losses. She said Cr Baker's motion could provide a big stimulus to the council, which could mean more jobs, not fewer.


Independant candidate for Clarence Debrah Novak
Independant candidate for Clarence Debrah Novak

Debrah Novak: Said her homework revealed many council staff in their 50s. She called for council to use natural attrition of the workforce and rejuvenation with younger workers to renew the council rather than slugging the 6000 pensioners in the area with higher rates.


Jim Simmons: Initially the Mayor supported the officers' plan, but eventually voted for the Baker proposal.

He said it would have been silly to use his casting vote to support the rate rise when it would have been defeated at the next council meeting in December.










Jason KingsleyPhoto ContributedNO RESALE
Jason KingsleyPhoto ContributedNO RESALE Contributed

Jason Kingsley: The deputy mayor was dismayed councillors could accept Cr Baker's proposal without it being tested in any way.


"It has every potential to result in dozens of job losses of honest, hard-working long-term employees and blow our debt out by a further $35 million based on adopting the fleet financing policy as recommended," he said.

Richie Williamson: His description of an amendment to Cr Baker's motion as changing it from "catastrophic to disastrous" captures his opinion.

He said the motion was "fluffed up" and full of untested proposals but he said he would abide by the democratic decision of the council if the proposal was accepted.


Arthur Lysaught
Arthur Lysaught Bill North

Arthur Lysaught: Said his main worry was protecting the jobs of the council staff.


He was concerned what the Office of Local Government might do when the council did not meet its Fit for the Future deadline later that night.

While Cr Greg Clancy was not at the meeting, his opposition to an SRV influenced the Mayor to use his casting vote to defeat it.

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