Councillors Sally Townley, Tegan Swan, Jan Strom, Paul Amos, Denise Knight, and John Arkan after their election to office in 2016.
Councillors Sally Townley, Tegan Swan, Jan Strom, Paul Amos, Denise Knight, and John Arkan after their election to office in 2016. Trevor Veale

'With much regret' councillor resigns

COUNCILLOR Jan Strom is officially resigning.

The Coffs Harbour City councillor was elected in 2016, but has been absent from meetings for almost a year now.

"I have always prided myself on being a finisher, so it was with much regret that I submitted my resignation," Cr Strom said.

"This has not been an easy decision for me to make but it is based on medical advice," Ms Strom said.

With nine Coffs Harbour councillors elected in 2016, her absence sometimes left an even number, with Mayor Denise Knight called on to cast a deciding vote.

This was the case in August last year when they considered a proposal from the Bunker Cartoon Gallery to provide $180,000 in seed funding to implement plans for a major upgrade.

Votes were tied and Cr Knight made the casting vote ruling against providing the full funding.

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

This means the council has the option of avoiding an expensive by-election.

A council report on the matter indicates a by-election could cost as much as an ordinary election.

The 2016 ordinary election coast approximately $425,000.

'Whilst a by-election would be seeking to fill one vacancy, as opposed to an ordinary election seeking to elect nine councillors, the reality is that costs would be very similar given the need to conduct the election across the entire local government area involving all the normal polling booths,' the report states.

In order to avoid this expense the recommendation before councillors on Thursday night will be for council to seek an order from the Minister for Local Government to dispense with the holding of a by-election and that the casual vacancy in civic office not be filled.

"I acknowledge my fellow councillors, and the council staff and I wish them well for the remainder of the term and beyond.

I also wish to acknowledge the community members I worked with during my 2016 election campaign and my time on council - thank you, our community needs your on-going and active involvement in our local democracy," Ms Strom said.



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