Williamson retains mayoralty for a sixth term
LEADING the Clarence Valley Council through a restructure to tie up the loose ends of the 2004 council amalgamation is the challenge for re-elected Mayor Richie Williamson.
On Tuesday, Clarence Valley councillors voted 7-2 to install Cr Williamson for his sixth term as the region's mayor ahead of challenger Cr Karen Toms.
Cr Craig Howe was re-elected as deputy mayor, beating sole challenger, Cr Andrew Baker, 7-2.
Cr Williamson said there were two important planks in the restructure approved on Tuesday: a rationalisation of the council's land and building assets and consolidation of more than 200 reserve accounts containing millions of dollars for projects which are no longer part of council's plans.
"They're the big strategic drivers for the council over the next 12 months," Cr Williamson said.
"They are important parts of the restructure we've been carrying out and with those in place we'll be in position to kick a few goals financially."
Cr Williamson is not expecting a smooth passage for these changes.
He anticipates the consolidation of the reserve funds will raise hackles.
"No doubt there are many small amounts out there for projects that aren't in the management plan," Cr Williamson said.
"How we bring those reserves into line with the management plan is one of the challenges we'll have to face over the next year."
Outside of council, the Mayor said the upgrade of the Pacific Highway remained one of his abiding passions.
"The Federal Government has given a commitment and a timeline for it to go ahead," Cr Williamson said.
"I am keen to hold all governments to account to ensure this project finally goes ahead."
He said investment and jobs for the Clarence Valley were also a priority and he would be pressuring the State Government to ensure his region continued to attract increased public sector jobs.
After the election, Cr Williamson congratulated his deputy, Cr Howe and the beaten challengers, Crs Toms and Baker.
Before the meeting, Cr Toms said she had decided to stand for mayor because she was disappointed with some aspects the way the council had been run.
Cr Toms outlined five points:
She believed council was not providing councillors with accurate information; was refusing to answer questions; had shut down debate; endangered a grant application and had spent money without authoris- ation.
"What concerns and disappoints me most is that the current Mayor considers the council is working well despite the above-mentioned points," she said.