Vote needed on councillor numbers

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TWEED Shire Council will call on voters to determine whether two additional councillors should be added to the council to increase from seven to nine councillors by 2020.

Current Tweed Shire Councillor Barry Longland wrote to The Weekly on Monday to offer readers some clarity on the issue, as well as asking voters to cast their vote in the compulsory referendum.

“At the Council election, now to be held on 29 October (2016), electors will be asked to vote on a referendum question concerning Councillor numbers. Voting on the question will be compulsory,” Cr Longland said.

“Section 224 of the Local Government Act requires that, during each term, a determination is made on the number of Councillor representatives for the local government area.

“For the Tweed, that number has remained at seven since the 2008 election before which there were eleven elected Councillors.”

Cr Longland said in August 2015, the Council resolved to put the question of an increase to nine Councillors to a referendum to be held in conjunction with the 2016 election.

“If that referendum succeeds, the Council will be increased to nine members from the 2020 election,” he said.

“I believe that the issue to be determined by voters is, ‘will our local democracy and the quality of decisions of the Council be improved if there are two extra Councillors in the Chamber?’ Essentially, electors are being asked to make a cost/benefit decision concerning their future representation.”

Cr Longland pointed out that the additional cost to ratepayers for two extra Councillors would be around $80,000 to $100,000 per annum, so the question for voters will be whether that cost is outweighed by the possibility of a demonstrable improvement in the functioning of Council that might flow from two additional members.

“I make no recommendation on the question, leaving it to the electorate to make their judgment on the matter come October 29.”

YOUR THOUGHTS: Do you think Tweed Shire Council should have seven or nine Councillors in future? Send your letters and comments to editor@theweekly.net.au