IN just under a week, Shire of Strathbogie residents will get to hear from their local councillors about the main issues relevant to them at two community forums.
An initiative by the Strathbogie Voices, the two forums, held in Euroa on Tuesday (Wesley Hall) and Nagambie on Wednesday (Mechanic’s Hall), is an opportunity for ratepayers to hear their councillors’ thoughts on rates, public transport, environmental issues and more.
The forums are designed much like the previous Voices forum, held late last year in Euroa, which asked a series of questions of the five state election candidates.
Each councillor will answer 10 questions (see below) with one of the questions pertinent to either Euroa or Nagambie.
The community forums will both begin at 7pm at their respective locations.
1. A recent Municipal Association of Victoria report highlighted that the Shire of Strathbogie had the third highest level of rates in Victoria. Rates are approximately twice the level of the neighbouring Mansfield LGA. What specific benchmarking or other activity has the Shire undertaken to determine how services can be delivered at a level of cost expended by other Local Government Areas?
2. In the Strathbogie Voices Report, 85 per cent of respondents do not feel they are being adequately represented. No vision and poor consultation were common observations. What will you do to improve community consultation on matters important to the residents? What is your strategy to establish community confidence?
3. There seems to be a widely held view that the Council Executive is not accountable to the ratepayers. The Chief Executive has a 360 degree performance appraisal. Why are ratepayers not included in the 360 degrees?
4. Public Transport is a key issue highlighted by residents. The Council is represented on the VLine Customer Reference Group, but what is being done to a) improve the reliability of the train service and b) improve connections with our nearest major regional centre i.e. Shepparton?
5. The environment is rated by Strathbogie Shire residents as being absolutely vital to their well-being. What organisational structures does Shire have in place to protect and enhance the environment?
6. Significant expertise exists among residents that could assist and improve Shire performance in many areas. How will the Shire take advantage of this expertise?
7. From 2016 rates will be capped to inflation by the state government unless councils can show just cause. What will the Shire’s rating strategy be in 2015/16?
8. Council governance continues to concern ratepayers. What procedures are in place to review internal and external processes? What parameters are used for engagement of consultants? What opportunities are available for professional development of staff?
9. A recent Strathbogie Voices forum on Climate Change has shown the community is concerned about the challenges confronting rural communities. What major changes is Council making to address climate change challenges?
10. The Seven Creeks Park and Reserve is an iconic area in Euroa. What lessons have been learnt from the loss of funding of the Rockies Bridge and the shelving of the consultant report of the Master Plan for the Seven Creeks Park?