Councils’ responsibilities continue to grow

Dean Johnson

Dean Johnson

Developing innovative economic strategies, ensuring a town has local access to health services and working alongside community groups to promote the unique attractions that will make visitors extend their stay – these are three activities not readily associated with rural councils but they are just a few of myriad non-traditional responsibilities local governments are being tasked with to meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of residents and ratepayers.

Ask the majority of people what councils do in 2018 and they will almost certainly rattle off the adage that it is all about rates, rubbish and roads.

But while delivering excellent waste management services and a second-to-none local road network remain priorities for the Kimba District Council, we find ourselves also taking on a range of evolving roles – formal or informal – as the most visible advocate for our district being the most vibrant place on the EP to work and play.

The business of council is now extremely diverse, many elements of which are either misunderstood or not readily identifiable.

Our council is spearheading a number of projects outside its core function, including recruiting a general practitioner, coordinating with the Kimba Community Development Group to showcase our wonderful town as it vies for national Keep Australia Beautiful Tidy Towns glory, and investigating whole-of-community renewable energy options that have the potential to provide a range of financial, environmental and energy security benefits.

It is fair to say elected members and staff wear an eclectic collection of hats and with council elections coming up in November, I urge anyone considering throwing their own hat in the ring as a candidate to learn more about what their responsibilities will be for four years if elected.

In 2018, it is impossible to have a singular focus as an elected member and effectively discharge your duties.

The expectations of constituents and the two other tiers of government, mean you need to have your head around a multitude of issues that impact the community and be prepared to have a say on every one of them.

Being an elected member is a challenging but rewarding role and come election time, I would love to see a ballot paper full of those wanting to shape the direction of Kimba and lead it to realise its potential.

Dean Johnson

Kimba District Council mayor