It’s often said anecdotally that the monthly gatherings of our esteemed representatives are longer than you find elsewhere, and now we have the proof.
The annual review of Council performance by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) has found that the average Byron Council meeting during the last financial year went for a marathon 469 minutes.
This compares to just 144 minutes for other councils.
To be fair, we are getting more bang for our buck, with Byron Council making more decisions (69) per meeting than other councils (24).
But the efficiency rate is still lagging behind and the meetings are getting longer – up 42 minutes on average from the previous year.
As Council staff are quick to point out, comparing Byron to the rest of the state is a tricky business owing to our unique ‘local circumstances’.
These circumstances might go some way to explaining why we are so far behind when it comes to the condition of our roads.
The PWC review found that just 11 per cent of Byron’s roads were in good condition compared to the median of 59 per cent for other regional councils.
The impact of more than two million visitors coming into the Shire each year is undoubtedly contributing to this situation.
Byron Council appears to be struggling manfully to address the problem, spending 47 per cent more on roads than the median expenditure for the state as a whole. Yet we still appear to be going backwards, with the proportion of roads in good condition falling 40 per cent over the past two financial years.
It isn’t all Cs and Ds for Byron Council on the annual report card, though. Council has greater gender equity than many other NSW councils. Forty per cent of staff in management positions and above are women, compared to 31 per cent for the rest of the state.
Byron Council staff also take far fewer days off owing to injury than the state average (just 24 days compared to 88 days).
Council employees also appear to be working more overtime than their counterparts elsewhere.
Council forked out $3,640 per employee on overtime in the 2018 financial year, compared with $2,899 for the rest of the state.