Council Honours Service, Adopts Key Recommendations

Published on 30 May 2023

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At the Ordinary Meeting held on 29th May, Upper Hunter Shire Council adopted key recommendations from several General Administration, Planning, and Infrastructure Reports.

One of the noteworthy highlights of the meeting was a special recognition given to Douglas Porter in celebration of his 40 years of employment at Upper Hunter Shire Council. Doug's professional commitment and unwavering dedication have been instrumental in many Council initiatives over the years. His longevity and tenure have been marked by steadfast dedication to community service, contributing significantly to the ongoing development of Upper Hunter Shire.

Council also received presentations from the 2023 Young Endeavour Ambassadors, who shared their experiences from the "Voyage of a Lifetime". The Young Endeavour Scheme provides opportunities for young individuals to enhance their self-confidence, teamwork, and life skills through challenging new experiences. The Ambassadors' insightful presentations underlined the invaluable impact of this programme.

Council has raised concerns at last night’s meeting over significant increases in the Emergency Services Levy (ESL). The ESL is a charge imposed on Councils to fund emergency services, such as firefighting and state emergency services, in their areas.

The increase in the levy and withdrawal of the subsidy, resulting in around $310,000 per annum, has put an additional burden on the Council's budget, which may lead to reduced services, higher rates, or deferred projects. Upper Hunter Shire Council joins council’s across the state in calling on the NSW government to fund the increasing costs of professional firefighting services from state resources instead of local government resources.

The ESL increases are particularly concerning because they come at a time when many communities and councils are still recovering from the impacts of recent natural disasters, such as bushfires and floods, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Council argues that these extra costs should be funded by the State Government, which has the broader capacity to raise revenue and manage such significant expenses.

Council also addressed matters concerning the Goulburn River Solar Farm Project. Following deliberations, the council agreed to accept an offer from Lightsource bp to enter into a planning agreement for the development of the Solar Farm project. This agreement ensures a sizable annual contribution to community enhancement and road maintenance funds, as well as an undertaking to seal and widen 4.7km of unsealed road on Wollara Road up to the Goulburn River National Park boundary. This initiative reaffirms Upper Hunter Shire's commitment to sustainability and renewable energy.

In recognition of significant community service, Council decided to honour the late Mark Heanly with a tree in St Aubins Town Square, part of the Scone CBD Revitalisation project. Mark’s contributions to the Scone CBD Revitalisation Committee were deemed above and beyond, meriting this special recognition. This commemoration stands as a testament to the importance Council places on service to the community.

Council adopted the recommendation to call for tenders for Stage 2, Kelly Street Block 3 (St Aubins Street to Susan Street), as part of the Scone CBD Revitalisation works.

Council also adopted the tender for the rehabilitation construction of Coulsons Creek Road (MR358), referred to as Merriwa to Willow Tree Road, from a yet-to-be-revealed Tenderer. The acceptance of the tender includes the schedule of rates contract for all sections of the road, with an option for additional work, subject to the Council receiving funding deeds from the Federal and State Governments. The successful tenderer will be announced when funding is confirmed.