Bill Taylor has surprised many in the Bega Valley by winning the mayoral vote last Friday in Bega.
Mr Taylor was the final councillor to make their quota and be elected following 13 counts to redistribute preferences after the September 8 poll, so the mayoral result was unexpected.
“I was very pleased and honoured to be elected as mayor. I have a great deal of respect for local government,” Mayor Taylor said yesterday
Asked if he felt it anomalous that the councillor with the least primary votes should be returned as mayor, he was forthright.
“I don’t think it’s an anomaly at all. Some time ago the residents of the shire were given the option by the state government to have a popularly elected mayor or a mayor elected by their elected representatives, the councillors. The residents chose the latter,” he said.
So what can ratepayers expect from their new mayor?
“I want to ensure that this council, which has a good balance of ages, a good balance of genders and a good balance of geographic representation so that residents have a councillor from within their vicinity, works together to be harmonious, and have a vigorous, respectful debate, and communicates with each other professionally and courteously,” Bill Taylor said yesterday.
“I want it to be as transparent and as open as is reasonably possible, to the people who elected us,” he added.
So what does that mean for the shire’s top issues?
“Local government is a creature of state government. What we can and can’t do is largely set by the state government. The provision of health services is a state government issue. I support the state government’s decision in relation to the South East Hospital and the continuation of Pambula Hospital. The future of Pambula Hospital will be watched closely.”
“The airport needs to be repaired and maintained properly – that’s essential. In regard to expanding airport services, and as one of the new councillors, there’s a certain amount of complexity in how we’ve arrived at the situation we’re in now. New councillors just need more time to get to grips with what’s actually happened and with the various engineering reports that are in the system, where the airport is in its present form or in a maintained form, and where that fits within general tourism expectations.”
“The central waste facility is underway. It is my understanding that the various permits and authorities are already in place. I know there are people who want this revisited. In my view I think we should proceed but make sure that all the restraints and controls are within the EIS and are meticulously carried out so that we have a modern, central facility there, which on an economic base, keeps waste control charges (garbage rates and charges) as low as possible for all residents of the shire.”
The shire’s future:
“Any community is more than its infrastructure, it is the people, and so long as the infrastructure is serving the people, looking after the social wellbeing of the people is priority one. Council can support the social wellbeing of the people through education, through our library systems, through developing other centres of learning. That doesn’t cost a lot of money but is extremely important work for the council.”
Councillor Russell Fitzpatrick was elected Deputy Mayor at Fridays’ extraordinary council meeting. Mr Fitzpatrick is interstate on personal leave at present.