Kiama Councillor Mark Croxford has called for the number of his colleagues to be cut back to streamline decision-making and cut costs for the troubled council.
Cr Croxford has lodged a controversial Notice of Motion (NOM), which calls for the number of representatives to be reduced from nine to seven ahead of the 2028 election.
“By reducing the number of councillors we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of decision-making, optimising the ratio of councillors to residents, and passing on cost savings for better allocation of resources across our community,” Cr Croxford said.
Cr Croxford argued that the ratio of residents to councillors was significantly lower than in the neighbouring Local Government Areas and other councils of similar classification.
“According to ‘Your Council’ published government data for the 2021 financial year, Wollongong has one councillor for every 16,637 residents, Shellharbour has one councillor for every 8695 residents, and Shoalhaven has one councillor for every 8417 residents,” he said.
“By comparison, Kiama has one councillor for every 2598 residents.
“Analysis of other Group 4 councils indicates that Kiama may be considered overrepresented compared to other councils in the same group.”
He said another option to slash the number of councillors down to just five would increase the ratio to 4737 residents per councillor, but he was concerned that this would limit effective representation.
“This reduction [to seven] also generates an estimated annual savings of $43,460 on councillor costs alone, which can be directed towards community services and infrastructure projects, benefiting the residents of Kiama and achieving cost efficiencies in council operations,” Cr Croxford said.
However, council can’t make the decision independently and there are a number of steps that must be completed at least 12 months before the next local government election in September 2024.
Council CEO Jane Stroud released the Notice of Motion, which is now open for feedback from residents for the next 42 days, as is required by the Local Government Act.
“I understand that the Kiama community may have many and varied views on this proposal. I invite everyone to read the Notice of Motion and make a formal submission via our website,” Ms Stroud said.
Feedback from the public will be used to inform councillors before they vote on the motion at their meeting on 15 August.
“A successful resolution of the council, along with a summary of the public consultation submissions, must then be provided to the Minister for Local Government for consideration,” Cr Croxford said.
“The matter is then passed on to the NSW Election Commission for necessary action to enable a referendum question to be put to Kiama voters at the 2024 local government elections.”
There would also likely be more community consultations in the lead-up to the next election.
“I encourage everyone to consider the NOM share their views and ideas, but also to remember there is a longer process – including a chance for our whole voting community to have their say in a referendum – before anything will change,” Ms Stroud said.
The community can submit feedback through the Kiama Council website. Submissions close at 5 pm on 8 August.