REVEALED: 9 big decisions facing Gympie council this year
The Gympie Regional Council had no shortage of tough issues in 2020 and it will be more of the same this year.
These are nine of the biggest decisions they will face over the next 12 months.
The decision to award management of the region’s public pools to a Victorian company in 2016 was controversial at the time.
This contract will expire in May, leaving the new council to decide whether to bring Belgravia back or establish a new structure for managing its pools across Gympie.
2. Environment protection
Last December’s decision to repeal two planning laws amid concern over unintended impacts on landowners and development stirred up a storm of controversy, prompting a protest at Town Hall and a petition now bearing more than 40,000 signatures from around the world.
The council is now faced with unveiling its alternative to these laws, knowing this subject and the decisions around it will be in the spotlight come the 2024 elections.
3. Sports squeeze
The region’s sports field squeeze is not going away any time soon thanks to a growing population and surging interest in physical activity.
For more than a year now the various Gympie sports codes have clashed over the use of a limited number of facilities; the council needs to find a pressure release valve, and sooner rather than later given how slow bureaucracy can be.
4. What’s the plan?
A new planning scheme for 2023 has been in the works for some time, and when this year is over the council will be more than halfway to that deadline.
Addressing the aforementioned environmental protection concerns is only part of the problem; the council must also figure out how to project and guide the region’s development in the post-bypass era.
5. The bottom line
Continued operational losses have been a concern for the council and Queensland Treasury, with last year’s $6.31 million loss the third in the row, even if it was markedly closer to balancing than the $14 million loss that came before it.
The decision now left to the council: when does it need to be back in the black, and how does it get there?
An exploration of possible job cuts mid-last year took a left turn and forced Queensland’s Industrial Relations Commission to step in, leaving the council to figure out where else savings could be found.
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6. “Landmark” decision
A proposed “landmark” four-storey aged care centre in the heart of the city and creating jobs in one of the region’s growth industries poses a wealth of possibilities for the future.
However, the council must not only decide whether to say “yes” or “no” to the plan, but how to address potential issues like parking and visual amenity in the vicinity of the Gympie Hospital where it will be built.
7. Rattling along
The future of the controversial heritage train was in the spotlight during last year’s election campaign owing to its blowout-riddled restoration and questions about its long term sustainability.
The impending release of the long-delayed Rattler review will help, if only to finally lay bare what the failings were that drove the original $10.8 million budget off the rails and saddled the train with a tonne of baggage it has struggled to outrun.
8. Filling the void
Cultural change within the council was another prominent platform during the election, a pitch strengthened by the emergence post-election of troubling internal staff survey results and a scathing report on the council’s financial management.
Now the house has been well and truly cleaned with the CEO, the directors of Infrastructure, Community Services, Planning, and the head of the council’s water department all departing through resignation or redundancy.
Interviews for the council’s new directors were held in recent weeks; an announcement of the hires is expected soon.
9. No time to waste
The clock has been ticking on the Bonnick Rd dump for some time; in 2018 it was estimated to have about three years left.
This brings us to 2021 - this year- where the council not only has to make a decision on building a new waste transfer station at Monkland, but then where that waste will be transferred to.