July 2015 – Peter Clee – President

PeterI am pleased to report that our new CEO Deborah Allen has performed very well at this most difficult time of the year. The Budget and Shire plan had not been started until May this year

Deborah has definitely hit the ground running and things are starting to run more smoothly.

The Annual Budget is a most important part of the Wagait Shire Councils operations. Deborah has done a superior job in preparing and dealing with council requests for project funding. It was most disappointing that the 2014-15 year looks like being a deficit year. The areas of concern have been identified and will be closely monitored over the next 12 months.

The Shire Plan has been updated and placed on our web site.

The strategic plan and annual report will be completed next.

Wagait Shire has always had a policy of rating on the basis of a flat rate per block and the proposed rate for 2015 / 16 budget of $560 per annum is due to be adopted at our July meeting. I believe that Wagait Shire Council is most certainly sustainable in the long term whilst still able to maintain the lowest rates in the Northern Territory. Details are available in the Wagait Shire Plan 2015 – 16 which is available on the council web site.

Many blocks now have multiple residential dwellings. It will be necessary for the CEO to look at alternative rating methodology to more evenly distribute the burden of rates.

During the first half of 2015 a community meeting was held in relation to an issue of unrestrained and feral dogs roaming the community. It was reported by the meeting that these animals were causing a general nuisance to residents. Council has resolved to introduce a program for companion animal registration and to investigate a longer term animal control program. This year will see the establishment of an animal registration system, a policy on Companion Animals and introduce By-Laws for uncontrolled animals. It is hoped that we may also see the voluntary introduction of microchips for companion animals.

The Companion Animal Management Program is a long term initiative of council in response to resident concerns. A small levy of $50.00 per block will be imposed in addition to the general rates to partly fund this program. It is hoped that eventually the program may become self funding.

The council has had an interim audit finalised and the auditor identified areas where council can make improvements.

I have previously reported to council about the Commonwealth funding for the Kenbi / Cox remediation Project. I attended a hearing held by the Commonwealth in relation to the proposed funding and subsequent to that hearing I was of the understanding that the Northern territory Government were looking to close the Wagait Tip. In doing so I understood that the NTG were going to fund a new Waste Transfer Station to be located in a suitable position where it could be utilised by both Belyuen and Wagait.

At a tri-council meeting at Belyuen recently it was discussed that  use could be made of the Belyuen Rubbish dump as an interim measure, however Belyuen Manager advised that there was much work to be done at that site. The use of this facility was dependent wholly on the prior construction of a suitable transfer station closer to Wagait. We understood that it is not the wish of the residents of Belyuen for casual dumping of individual rubbish at that rubbish tip. A transfer station would be used for receipt of the rubbish and that could then be transported to Belyuen, or some other tip, on an as needs basis.  Nor is it the wish of Wagait residents to impose on the quiet comfort of the good residents of Belyuen.

It is imperative for NTG to construct an adequate and suitable Transfer Station elsewhere to meet our long term needs but preferably the needs of both communities. Such a transfer station may well service both Belyuen and Wagait well into the foreseeable future. They first must identify and gain agreement for the use of a suitable location, as this council area is too small to incorporate any such facility. Mr Shaun Hardy, Dept of Local Govt has been looking at some suitable land south of the current tip site, between Belyuen and Wagait which would be suitable. The NTG need to identify this land and negotiate with the TO’s and the NLC if appropriate. Negotiations of this nature are beyond the ability of this council.

The Wagait Shire has no land and no budget for any establishment of such facility nor any budget for operational costs for the transfer site, so it will also be dependent on the NTG to meet the operational costs for at least the current financial year or until we can build such costs into our annual budget.

It appears that the NTG are looking to renege on this arrangements. I have been adamant that a long term solution is what is needed, not the short term-band aid solution that is preferred by the NTG.

Our holiday sports program has received a significant boost with the assistance of significantly reduced fares for participants to visit the TIWI Islands on 16 July. This should be a really great day. Hopefully this can be repeated again in the future and possibly children from Belyuen can join our tours.

This past month I have attended to the following meetings and events:-

  • NTG –re Wagait Tip
  • Thiess Services – Remediation Project
  • McMahon Services – Remediation Project
  • Intract – Remediation Project
  • Media Interview – ABC Radio Grass Roots.
  • Wagait Emergency Recovery committee
  • Sealink NT Ferries – School Holiday Program
  • Darwin Festival Committee
  • Mandorah Ukulele and Folk Festival
  • Media Interview – Wagaitear
  • Electorate Office – Garry Higgins
  • Cox Club

I continue to meet with the CEO on a regular basis and have taken a large number of telephone enquiries from residents and ratepayers.

PRESS RELEASE 10 July 2015