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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Ballina ratepayers lose control

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An ever widening gap appears to be developing between Ballina Council and its ratepayer owners. No longer are the ratepayers in control. Their hard earned rate monies seem to be spent at a great rate of knots on unnecessary commercial developments – to be topped up by a demand for higher and higher rates to balance the books. After all it’s the ratepayers who fund the Commercial Services wage bill of around $450,000 per annum.

The empty shops and restaurant in Ballina’s Wigmore Arcade and Pelican 181 have cost the ratepayers dearly, with over $300,000 in lost revenue from what can only be described as negligence and mismanagement. With vacant shops appearing in towns all over Australia, how do you replace those tenants once you have let them go? More importantly, how do you replace them at the lease termination prices, as everyone is out for a bargain at the moment?

In order to recoup the losses, I believe the ratepayers should ask the director general to surcharge the councillors and staff under the Local Government Act 1993 Section 435 (2) which states:

435 Surcharging by Departmental representative

  1. If satisfied that any expenditure or transfer, or any entry in a council’s accounts, has been incurred or made in contravention of this or any other Act or of any regulation in force under this or any other Act, a Departmental representative may:
    (a) disallow the expenditure, transfer or entry, and
    (b) surcharge the amount of the disallowance on the councillor, the general manager or any other member of staff of the council by whom the expenditure, transfer or entry was incurred or made or ordered to be incurred or made.
  2. A Departmental representative may also surcharge on a councillor, the general manager or any other member of staff of the council the amount of:
    (a) any deficiency or loss incurred by the council as a consequence of the negligence or misconduct of the councillor, general manager or member of staff, or
    (b) any money which ought to have been, but has not been, brought into account by the councillor, general manager or member of staff.
  3. A Departmental representative may not exercise the powers conferred by this section unless expressly authorised to do so by the Director General.

Time for change? Bring on amalgamation and make the new super councils more accountable to their ratepayers.

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