If you're in it for the money, forget it

Crs Greg Sauer and Peter Petty in council chambers, current under renovation. A new council will be elected in September.
Crs Greg Sauer and Peter Petty in council chambers, current under renovation. A new council will be elected in September.

It's five months until we head to the polls in local government elections, delayed from last year due to COVID-19. With candidates starting to plot their campaigns (nominations open July 26), some sitting councillors share their experience, where the best of intentions are often thwarted by legislation, red tape and tight budgets.

Peter Petty (currently mayor), Greg Sauer (currently deputy mayor) and Bronwyn Petrie plan to put themselves up for re-election come September. Bob Rogan and John Macnish are as yet undecided, and the remaining councillors are playing their cards close to their chest.

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Should he be successful in retaining his seat for another term, Cr Petty said his objective would be to have a council that works for the community that has elected it, and to see the completion of projects ongoing from the current council.

Cr Sauer feels his biggest achievement as a councillor is still ahead of him.

"TSC has made some great achievements during this term but more work is required," he said.

To that end he said he would continue to put the community interests first.

"While Tenterfield Shire is already starting to become a destination, it is important that we continue to ensure we continue to provide attractions and reasons for people to make us an area they visit regularly, before the bypass is built.

"The Angry Bulls Trails will be a key link in achieving that aim."

Should he be re-elected Cr Macnish hopes for continuing sound, responsible governance, seeing no great problems with the current regime especially in its achievements with new bridges and more bitumen.

"I think we're doing a reasonable job," he said.

Cr Sauer said he has no real regrets so far, although possibly a couple of disappointing decisions.

On his experiences as a councillor, Cr Petty said is a great honour and a humbling experience to be elected in the first place, but for him one of the main aspects was learning to respect each other's opinions.

A highlight of Cr Macnish's time on council is being in a position to help the town and district survive drought and fire, and a general appreciation of the opportunity to have input into what happens in the shire.

He said the hiring of a horticulturalist had had an impact on parks and gardens around the district, and he also feels councillors are now working with a well-motivated council workforce, a legacy of outgoing chief executive Terry Dodd.

On the downside, among the worst aspects of the job are constant change along with cost-shifting from other levels of government back onto local government, and the red tape.

"Things that should be easy to achieve are often not, due to legislation," Cr Sauer said.

He laments the lack of funding to achieve some of the strategies in the Community Strategic Plan such as the redevelopment of the Swimming Pool Complex.

"Council's budget alone will not be enough to get that done," he said.

Among the surprises for Cr Petty on becoming a councillor was the important role held by local government and the challenges councillors face on a continual bases, both financial and in maintaining infrastructure, and the diversity of the villages and outlying areas.

And the best advice they can pass onto new councillors?

"Learn to understand the Local Government Act and work with in that," Cr Petty said. "Work with your fellow councillors to form a team and respect each other's opinion."

Cr Sauer urged new councillors to remember that they're not on their own.

"Other councillors have prior experience of being a 'newbie'," he said. "Do not be afraid to ask questions."

Cr Macnish's advice to new councillors is to not rush in to decisions.

"It's a lot more complicated that you realise," he said.

And if potential candidates are in it for the money, think again, with several councillors pointing out the many hours the role involves.

"If you do the job properly, the hourly rate would be less than working at McDonalds," Cr Sauer said.

"The benefit you will get is the satisfaction for working to make your community a better place to live for everyone."