Bega Valley ratepayers association renews focus

The Bega Valley Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association has marked a little over two years as an incorporated body with its second annual general meeting on Sunday.

Known for its numerous correspondences via local media outlets and relentless pursuit of the Bega Valley Shire Council, the BVSRRA said there is more that can be done to make the shire a better place.

While there was only small turn-out to the AGM -“about half a dozen” according to secretary John Richardson – the BVSRRA boasts a membership of around 140 from right across the shire and has plans for membership drives in coming months.

Mr Richardson said the association was under no illusions it could attract large participation in an AGM, but instead will look to its more popular biannual special meetings.

“The AGM is very much a formality, focused on membership and reviewing the financial performance of the previous year,” Mr Richardson said.

“Our special meetings held in October and March are much more popular.

“Apart from the kinder weather, there are more opportunities at those meetings to discuss contemporary issues and to participate in discussion.”

Peter Rogers, Judy Geary and Mr Richardson were all re-elected unopposed to the roles of president, vice-president and secretary respectively, while Mary Brady was appointed the new treasurer.

Mr Richardson said the next 12 months will be “business as usual” for the BVSRRA.

“There is still a lot to focus our attentions and energy on.

“We are proud of our continued pursuit of the council over management of the Merimbula Airport, which is vital infrastructure for the future economic wellbeing of the shire.”

Other issues in the sights of the BVSRRA include the Bega Civic Centre and Littleton Gardens redevelopment, Hotel Australasia in Eden and the Mobil site in Merimbula.

“We’ve tried to work constructively with the council,” Mr Richardson said.

“However, they delay and frustrate hoping you’ll give up and go away.

“Unfortunately for them they have a group of people who just won’t!

“Ultimately I believe we will succeed in bring about positive change in the council and the whole shire will be better off for it.”

Engagement important says president

The Bega Valley Residents and Ratepayers Association was originally born out of concern over the demolition and redevelopment of the Bega Town Hall.

It has since grown to encapsulate community members’ concerns over a number of issues throughout the shire, according to president Peter Rogers, who gave his president’s report at Sunday’s annual general meeting.

“The BVSRRA believes that growing community interest in local government issues will continue to underwrite growth in our membership and with the recent launch of our new website, which allows residents/ratepayers to apply for membership online, we are expecting see a significant increase in our membership over the next year,” he reported.

Mr Rogers also reported on the engagement the BVSRRA has with the Bega Valley Shire Council.

“I believe that it is important to acknowledge that the BVSRRA has been able to establish a constructive dialogue with BVSC, in particular in the form of quarterly budget review meetings.

“These meetings have been particularly useful in helping the BVSRRA to better understand the financial workings and performance of BVSC, while also providing a useful forum for the BVSRRA to suggest improvements in the structure of BVSC’s financial reports, so as to facilitate greater understanding on the part of residents and ratepayers.

“While there are ongoing issues of contention between the BVSRRA and council, the BVSRRA will continue to strive for a more positive and constructive working relationship with BVSC, while encouraging council’s efforts to improve the effectiveness of its operations and its financial performance, as well as the quality of its communications/engagement with residents/ratepayers at every level.”

For more on the BVSRRA, visit www.begavalleyshireratepayers.asn.au.

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