The eight Coffs Harbour City Councillors.
The eight Coffs Harbour City Councillors.

Council gets the word on by-election

Coffs Harbour City Council has been advised they will not be able to hold a by-election to fill the vacancy left my Clr Jan Strom.

The potential for a tied vote has long been a problem for Coffs Harbour City Council since Clr Strom retired in march last year.

And now with Local Government elections, scheduled for September 2020, postponed for another 12 months due to Covid-19, Cr Keith Rhoades asked the question so many ratepayers wanted answered.

He raised a motion in May asking staff to research and investigate all options to conduct a By-Election to fill the vacancy.

RELATED: 'With much regret' councillor resigns

Council sought guidance from the Office of Local Government (OLG) who advised that: 'due to the COVID-19 pandemic and s318B of the Local Government Act 1993, it is not possible to conduct a by-election before the next ordinary local government election which has been gazetted for September 4, 2021.'

In March last year, after already being absent from Council meetings for close to a year, Cr Jan Strom resigned based on medical advice.

Cultural and Civic Space
Cultural and Civic Space Wendy Andrews

This left an even number and the potential for a tied vote which has occurred on several occasions particularly in relation to the controversial $76.5m Cultural and Civic Space.

This leaves Mayor Denise Knight with the option of using her casting vote to decide and progress a matter, or leaving the tie and letting the motion lapse.

Cr Strom's resignation came within 18 months of the next council election, then scheduled for September 2020.

So Council took the option of avoiding an expensive by-election. The 2016 ordinary election cost approximately $425,000.



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