Fewer councillors for RVC

Richmond Valley Mayor Col Sullivan.
Richmond Valley Mayor Col Sullivan.

Richmond Valley Council (RVC) will soon see a reduction in the number of councillors elected to represent the Richmond Valley area.

Local Government Minister Don Page announced last week that the number of councillors will be reduced from nine to seven at the next local government elections to be held in September.

RVC Mayor Col Sullivan said the Minister's decision came after a public consultation with the Richmond Valley community about the proposed reduction.

"The Minister's decision supports the views of community members after we invited submissions from them on the issue a number of months ago," Mayor Sullivan said.

Mayor Sullivan believes that having seven councillors doing the work of nine would not be a problem, but he has concerns the reduced number of councillors may not see an adequate representational spread of councillors from across the whole local government area.

"In Casino the population is 11,000 while in Evans Head the population is only 3000," Mayor Sullivan said. "I hope that not all elected councillors will be from the same area, and I would prefer to bring back the old ward system to guarantee adequate representation from the lesser populated areas... It also allows for a greater diversity of opinions to be represented on Council."

While a reduction in councillor numbers may mean some cost savings for Council, Mayor Sullivan said the decision was not based on financial considerations. An RVC councillor receives a payment of $8000 per year, so the reduction will amount to a cost saving of only $16,000.

"Against a Council budget of $50 million, this doesn't represent a lot of money, but it is one way Council can show it is prepared to cut its budget," Mayor Sullivan said.

Compared to other councils in the local area, RVC will soon have less councillors than Lismore City or Byron Shire. Lismore Council currently has 11 councillors and Byron Council has nine. Financial remuneration also differs between councils, with a Lismore councillor receiving an annual payment of around $16,000. The remuneration fee for local councillors is based on a complex formula worked out by the Division of Local Government that involves looking at a council area's population, assets and the nature of duties required by councillors to fulfil their roles.

"We're seeing these sorts of changes in local government across the state," Mayor Sullivan said. "The remuneration councillors receive is a poor return for the job and it's not easy to find candidates. Here we run a $50 million business with 250 staff and we need people to stand for Council who have education and ability. I'd like to encourage more people who want to see the area progress stand up and run for Council in this year's elections."

If you're interested in running for Richmond Valley Council this year, you can phone Mayor Sullivan on 0418 006 276.

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