Mayor floats new council structure

Wards should be scrapped and the number of councillors cut from 11 to nine at Wattle Range Council according to its Mayor Des Noll.

The current structure of council has been unchanged since its foundation in 1997 and Mr Noll has stressed this is a personal point of view.

“There has been no discussion at council and no resolution of council,” Mayor Noll said.

For the past 24 years following the voluntary merger of the Millicent, Beachport and Penola councils, there has been an elected-at-large mayor as well as 11 councillors over four wards.

If Mr Noll had his way, Wattle Range would only have a mayor and nine area councillors and follow the “no ward” model of the majority of the region’s councils.

Under his model, there would be an instant annual saving of $30,000 as each councillor currently receives a yearly allowance of $15,000.

“In the corporate world, you see boards with five or seven members and they are quite productive,” Mayor Noll said.

“This would change the dynamics of council.

“Without wards, we would avoid narrow thinking and see the big picture.

“I have spoken to people in the community and they feel it is a logical move and provide the best value for money.

“Wards were a part of the new merged council in 1997 and it was thought at the time they would be looked at again.”

Mayor Noll praised the cooperative spirit of the current council. He said there were factions and any disagreements about council decisions were not personal and not taken outside the chamber.

After retiring from a 42-year career in the police force, Mayor Noll entered local government at the last poll in 2018 when he defeated serving councillor Dennis Muhovics.

He is not certain about seeking a second term at the next election due in about 18 months.

“I will be having talks with my family,” Mayor Noll said.

Council chief executive Ben Gower would not offer an opinion about the future structure of Wattle Range Council.

“We are keen to hear the opinions of the community,” Mr Gower said.

“Is there a way of refining the structure?

“At a ratio of one councillor-per-750 residents, Wattle Range currently has one of the highest levels of representation in the state.”

Under the Local Government Act, all councils in South Australia are obliged to review their structure every eight years.

The March council meeting decided to start the elector representative review.

The review is expected to be completed by October and council has set aside a sum of $25,000 in its 2020/21 budget for the consultative process.

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