Teamwork, respect, courtesy – and a sense of humour
THE 2020/21 budget has been adopted and we’re looking ahead to the next big event, a by-election on Friday July 31 when a new councillor will be elected to fill former Cr Bill Manning’s seat.
A question frequently asked is what is it like to be a councillor and how much time is required?
Well, serving on a council is a unique experience – it can be rewarding, challenging and will test your mettle, but it is never boring.Read more
Compulsory training of five local government units with a 100 per cent pass rate is now required by local government law.
That is, the Local Government Act 1995 which, along with council Standing Orders (rules of debate) and the shire’s Code of Conduct (rules of behaviour), which a new councillor will quickly become familiar with.
Council is not simply a committee where a monthly agenda, meeting and giving an opinion is the sum of your contribution.
The monthly meeting is in fact the centre of concentric ripples of information upon which the core facts of an item are based.
For example, behind every planning decision is another ripple of legislative and regulatory constraints, then maybe a local law and/or a local planning policy or two.
However, if a decision involves a cost to the shire, then another ripple follows concerning the capacity to act upon an expense as defined by the budget.
The budget is not just a community wish list but is defined by the council’s Corporate Business Plan and Long-term Financial Plan, which are themselves derived from an overarching blueprint – the Community Strategic Plan – which reflects community expectations.
Into this scenario comes discretionary spending (other things the community wants) which must be considered against financial commitments and unexpected demands.
Against all of this is the fundamental question – does this serve our community well, now and in the future?
What does this mean?
It means when not attending monthly meetings, a councillor has documents to review, budgets to consider and other tasks to do.
In between, policies, local laws and delegations are appraised, agendas read, committees meetings attended, communication records maintained, correspondence answered and conversations had, as well as many other tasks that need to be done.
Being a councillor does at times entail a lot of work, time, commitment and diligence.
It requires not just decisions for today but an understanding of the consequences for tomorrow.
It requires teamwork, respect and courtesy – and a sense of humour does not go astray.
It is also a wonderful opportunity to really do some good for the community and that, with the camaraderie of like-minded colleagues, carries you through.