Members of the Esperance community filled Council Chambers on Monday evening, December 3, keen to have their say on changes to the current local government regulations.
The Department of Local Government hosted the Community Drop-in Session as a result of the state government’s commitment to review and modernise the Local Government Act 1995.
The meeting addressed issues including financial management, rates, administrative efficiencies, local laws, council meetings, complaints management and elections and saw prominent members of a number of community advocacy groups including the Esperance Ratepayers Association and the Esperance Merivale Tip Action Group attend.
Attendees raised concerns about the current process for complaints handling, the level of community engagement and consultation in major projects and how that should be implemented, consultation in the setting of rates and advanced notice, and the executive recruitment process.
Recommendations included making changes to council voting requirements, with a push to utilise modern technology to ensure a full council was present to vote on important issues and to avoid using the casting vote.
Attendees also discussed strengthened communication channels with the Local Government minister and greater power to intervene.
After visiting 89 local governments, the department’s facilitator said the group had been very well engaged.
A workshop was also held for Esperance Shire staff and members of council and Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said staff were particularly interested in administration efficiencies, financial management and elections.
“There was a lot of discussion regarding the current inconsistencies between current state government and Local Government requirements, regulations and obligations,” he said.
“Other issues raised was for the new act to be simple to read and less prescriptive, greater focus on the Integrated Planning & Reporting, and reduce unnecessary compliance which adds additional costs to a Local Government, yet provides little overall benefit to local government operations and the community.”
Those unable to attend can complete a survey via www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/ before March 31, 2019.