Mid Murray Council discuss electoral review

Removing the position of mayor would save the Mid Murray Council $20,000 a year if it instead elected a chairperson at the next election, according to councillor Kevin Meyers.

Cr Meyers, of the Eyre ward, presented a motion at the August 8 council meeting to conduct an Electoral Representation Review before the 2018 Local Government Elections.

He proposed switching from a mayor to a chairperson and said council would also save another $20,000 a year with a boundary realignment of the Eyre and Shearer wards and by removing one elected member.

Overall, he predicted savings of more than $120,000 over the next four years.

“Cr Jennings (also Eyre ward) has had a change in life and hasn’t been around much in the Eyre ward

Cr Meyers told elected members that Chief Executive Officer Russell Peate had asked him not to present the motion in the absence of Mayor Dave Burgess, but he decided to proceed considering Kelly Kuhn was Acting Mayor.

Councillor Brenton Schmitt, also of the Eyre ward in the north of the council district, said there was good reason to switch from a mayor to a chairperson.

“At the moment, if a candidate doesn’t get in as mayor, they’re out and can’t even run as a councillor,” he said.

“Plus it’s much harder for someone from our ward to get in as mayor… it’s a popularity contest after all.”

Mr Peate said he believed the better model for local government was a mayor elected at large.

Councillor Steve Wilkinson, of the Shearer ward, said an electoral review would come at a considerable cost and should be based on a decision by ratepayers.

“It could cost us $50,000 all together to conduct the review… it should only be done by a public poll,” he said.

Councillor Jeff Hall, of the Murray ward, said it could become awkward if council has a hostile table under a chairperson and it was better to have a mayor elected by the people.

When put to a vote, the decision was tied with four votes in favour and four against.

As Acting Mayor, Kelly Kuhn delivered the casting vote against and the motion was lost.