LOUD and clear the message has been given to South Gippsland Shire Council that its ratepayers value their swimming pools.
The swimming pools at Foster and Mirboo North head the list of priorities for Budget spending provided through the OurSay online community consultation, the first stage of which wound up last Friday.
The top five ideas will form the basis for discussion at community workshops to be held at Meeniyan Hall at 2.15 and 6.30pm next Tuesday, November 25. People are urged to register for the workshops – either online through OurSay via the shire website or by phoning Council on 5662 9200 – if they want to be a part of the discussions. The top ten ideas will be presented to Council at the Budget workshops and will also be used to inform the review of the Council Plan 2013-2017.
The shire’s manager of community relations, Christian Stefani, said the OurSay partnership was a first for Council, which was very keen to improve the way it engaged with the community.
For the first time, he said, people were being given the opportunity to provide priorities for spending at the start of the Budget preparation process, rather than merely comment on the draft Budget.
“We don’t have anything to compare it with, but we are pleased to note that 662 people registered for the OurSay online forum and submitted an idea or voted for an idea – or both. OurSay will prepare a report for Council this week with details on how this first consultation worked,” said Mr Stefani.
By the time the voting closed on Friday evening, there had been more than 4000 votes placed for a total of 98 ideas, with 333 comments.
Most popular was Carol Lester’s idea to “work to keep the Foster Swimming Pool operating, heated and improved as an integral part of the Foster community”. This garnered 727 votes and 45 comments.
Almost as popular (698 votes) was Fred Couper’s recommendation for support of the redevelopment of the Mirboo North Pool.
Neil Shaw of Sandy Point attracted 506 votes for his proposition that ratepayers should be able to deliver green waste to shire transfer stations for free all year round.
Janine Bullock’s suggestion that Council fund the business case and final concept design for an exhibition/equestrian centre at Stony Creek attracted 443 votes.
Fish Creek artist Kerry Spokes recommended Council get pro-active in the arts, particularly for the sake of cultural tourism, and this idea attracted 277 votes.
The sixth most popular idea (188 votes) came from Gayle Margaret and was for Council to undertake an online consultation on exempting the shire from CSG fracking and coal mining before the moratorium ends next July.
There were 157 votes for Stuart Sawyers’ recommendation that Council prioritise keeping rate rises below the CPI.
Foster resident Lloyd McKenzie took a keen interest in the OurSay results. He noted: “It was interesting to observe that there was almost a total absence of any ideas submitted in relation to Leongatha. The only Leongatha idea submitted was one seeking more cultural events in Leongatha – which attracted five votes. This could lead to an inference that it is felt Leongatha is already well served by existing council programs and infrastructure.”
Full details of the OurSay Budget consultation are available on the shire website, where you can also register for next Tuesday’s afternoon and evening workshops. (Please note that you don’t have to have participated online to attend a workshop, but for catering purposes the shire asks you to indicate which workshop you would like to attend.)