Urgent call to fill vacancy on Coffs Council
The potential for a tied vote has long been a problem for Coffs Harbour City Council.
And now with Local Government elections, scheduled for September 2020, postponed for another 12 months due to Covid-19, Cr Keith Rhoades is asking the question so many ratepayers want answered.
He has raised the following notice of motion prior to this Thursday's council meeting:
That Council research and investigate all options to conduct a By-Election to fill the vacancy on Coffs Harbour City Council.
All options such as in person, electronically, postal or by any means acceptable to the electoral laws and rules within NSW. This report is to be presented back to Council as a matter of urgency. Should the NSW Electoral Commission not be in a position to conduct an election are there are other organisations that provide these services such as The Australian Electoral Company?
In March last year, after already being absent from Council meetings for close to a year, Cr Jan Strom resigned based on medical advice.
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.
This gave council the option of avoiding an expensive by-election. The 2016 ordinary election coast approximately $425,000.
But now with the elections postponed to September 2021 Cr Rhoades thinks it's time to look at their options.
"A good and strong cross section of ratepayers within our community have expressed their disappointment that the elections set down for later this year have been put back 12 months until September 2021," Mr Rhoades said.
"By that time this means Coffs Harbour City Council has been one Councillor short for nearly four years.
"Our community have expressed that this is not acceptable. Councillors have an opportunity to rectify this situation by supporting this Motion."