Lack of transparency continues

Sir, – I refer to my letter in the T&A Times published in April of my concerns and amazement at what now appears to be an ill-conceived knee jerk reaction by the Mayor from comments made by the Minister of Local Government in relation to proposed amalgamations.

You will recall that in my letter I had asked for transparency of the Mayor’s actions and I had requested seven items of clarification from the Mayor to explain the poorly executed attempt of amalgamation with our neighbouring Councils.

To date I have not received any communication from the Mayor in relation to the transparency of the amalgamation attempt however Cr Peter Cross did try to attempt a reply in the T&A Times and I can only suggest at the bequest of the petty coat reign.

Cr Cross became confused and lacked research with inaccurate and ill-informed jargon that did nothing to explain the Mayor’s actions or had any relevance to the questions when I had asked for transparency. Cr Cross was elected to office with many promises to the ratepayers and I would ask that he abide by them and above all keep an open, constructive independent attitude.

With my offer to the Mayor for answers and to date none received one can only perceive that my concern and alarm for our Tumut Shire to amalgamate with our neighbouring Shires was poorly executed and the real question is why?

Tumut Shire has millions of dollars in reserves of cold hard cash that is the result of many years of ratepayers hard earned contributions and Tumut Shire is the envy of many councils that are of comparative size to Tumut Shire. We host a very healthy infrastructure that has been monitored by the skilled Shire assets team and they have developed programs of upgrades and allocated necessary ongoing funding to maintain such an infrastructure.

In my 12 years as a Councillor it would be fair to say and without disrespect that Tumut Shire is heads above our neighbour councils in terms of financially, regulatory and compliance and that begs the question, why would we even consider the thought of amalgamation with anyone without conducting a major cost management inventory study and more importantly public comment before any proposal?

I also have a concern that this council ship is mastered by one captain and to hell with the crew. During my time as Deputy Mayor I was involved in all discussions with Mayor Larter at all times on all things, and I am of the opinion this is not protocol with the incumbent. The current Deputy Mayor is in name only but has the experience and ability as do all Councillors to contribute to a healthy debate, if not gagged. A second opinion is always helpful if you want to listen.

The public should be aware of the enormity and complex situation the Mayor has entered Tumut Shire into and without any respect in the form of a reply and hence that only raises a myriad of questions and I would again ask the Mayor, what would be the policy on the existing millions of dollars in Tumut ratepayers reserves?

Would there be a County Council and if so how many councillors for representation from each area or do we have wards, were Staff arrangements considered and what of possible redundancies; were heavy and light plant considered?

What will be the future of Snowy WS, what was the plan for future rate costs and were they across the board for each Council? What is the compliance of adjoining councils on environmental problems and cost to rectify them, water and sewerage compliance, who will own existing council assets, what was the engineering report on the adjoining road structure both urban and rural and the list will go on and on.

To gag debate by councillors Pritchard, Bulger and Hayes on the amalgamation debacle on the back of a casting vote by the Mayor was despicable and unwarranted. Therefore again it asks more questions than it answers and sends a poor message to the ratepayer on the operations of our public office.

Communication is one of the major fundamentals of life – do not gag it.

In any business deal it is courteous to at least discuss any proposal over a congenial meeting to test the water and most certainly not an amateurish approach by just sending a letter on a multi-million dollar proposal that will have an enormous effect on the 12,000 ratepayers of this Shire.

Even as I write this letter, other councils are calling for public meetings to discuss the debate for amalgamations and although the consensus is very negative towards amalgamation expressed from other Mayors they have expressed the need for urgent input from the people and they certainly will not charge off into the night without direction.

Once again Mr Editor I ask the Mayor to again be transparent and respond to my questions, and also to the public, on the amalgamation issue at hand and I also ask councillors Scott Stevenson, Peter Cross and Margaret Isselmann to reconsider their support for a gag and be transparent in all operations.

When you leave public office that you have put your heart and soul into and also devoted your time and efforts to make this a better shire for over 12 years then it does not mean it’s over when the bell tolls and I will not just quietly walk away.

The terms of amalgamation do not sit right with me having experienced the electrical industry amalgamation which I feel had a negative step for this shire. I thoroughly enjoyed my term as a Tumut Shire councillor however I will never stand for nor do I ever intend to run for any public office. Therefore it is my goal to monitor the progress and support our council for transparency in all activities especially for an issue that could change the future and structure of Tumut Shire Council and the efforts over the years of past councillors who made this Shire the envy of Local Government.

Yours etc

Ben Dumbrell (Snr)