Libraries, sporting facilities, and drought relief were on the agenda at Glen Innes Severn Council’s meeting on Thursday, October 25.
Mayor Carol Sparks called on councillors to support the NSW Public Libraries Association and Local Government NSW in their advocacy to state government for additional funds for public libraries.
“The level of State Government funding for NSW public libraries has reached crisis point,” Cr Sparks said. “This is an historic issue that has been ignored by successive NSW governments.”
Council had invested significantly in library services over the past decade. They spent approximately $2.7 million when the Library Learning Centre was built in 2005-2006, and approximately $42,000 each month as operational costs.
Whilst Council receives funds from State Government, these have gradually declined.
In 2015/16, State funding for Public Libraries covered only 7.5% of the total costs of operating the 368 libraries across NSW. Public libraries in this state receive the lowest per capita funding from the NSW government compared to all other states in Australia, while councils pay 92.5 per cent of the costs to operate public libraries, up from 77 per cent in 1980.
Council resolved to support urgent action from the NSW Local Government sector and NSW Public Libraries Association / Local Government NSW, to reverse the ongoing deterioration of State funding for public libraries, and to ensure that local councils will not be forced to continue meeting the funding shortfall.
Partnership with NIAS
Council has accepted an associate partnership proposal with the Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) for next year.
“The Associate Partnership would provide a number of benefits to Council, as well as allow Council to demonstrate its support for sport and talented young athletes,” Council’s business paper concluded.
NIAS, formed in 1992, helps talented sports players in the Northern Inland region to reach their maximum potential, on and off the field. It provides talent development programs, support and activities to sports in the region.
NIAS is aligning each of its 12 sports with a particular town in the region, and is looking to make Glen Innes a netball centre – particularly with the proposed new $5.5 million Regional Netball Centre, with $4.2 million from the state government and $1.28 from council.
“Given the strong netball culture that exists within the Glen Innes Severn community, it makes perfect sense that the NIAS netball squad and Glen Innes Severn Council form a strong relationship that will see great growth into the future,” Council's business paper said.
Council will contribute $2000 to support NIAS athletes in 2019.
Council will apply for $1 million in drought relief under the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Programme.
Councils across Australia are eligible for $1 million each, as part of the Coalition’s $75 million fund to support drought-stricken communities.
Council would use the money for a local economic stimulus package, a local landholders’ support hub, a Deepwater supply stand pipe, and to resheet unsealed rural roads.
“We have taken both a short-term and long-term view so as to ensure we immediately inject and encourage spending in our local community, and further, to ensure that we are continuing to look forward with solutions that can enable our Local Government Area (LGA) to be economically viable into the future,” Council’s business paper said.
“Projects are designed to assist landholders and local small businesses, who are both impacted by the drought.
“The combination of projects, which amount to a requested $1 million, will drive local spend from both visitors and landholders and longer term protection from leakage outside our LGA.”
To stimulate the local economy, Council will provide visitors with a $50 “Why Leave Town?’ gift card. The “Highland Dollars” cards would particularly benefit retail, accommodation, and food service industries.
The cards are “designed to create social buzz via individuals’ social networks, and leave a feel good sentiment in visitors whilst injecting money directly into our local economy,” the business paper stated.
Long-term, Council hopes to reduce leakage between businesses in the LGA. Glen Innes loses up to $200 million each year due to local businesses purchasing from outside the LGA.
The three-year project would be delivered in partnership with Council, Business in Glen (BIG), Glen Innes Highlands Visitor Association (GIHVA), and potentially GLENRAC.
Council aims to set up a local landholders’ support hub. Under the Labour for Landholders scheme, local people and Corrective Centre inmates would do landholders’ jobs that had fallen behind because of drought: feeding livestock, critical fencing, managing weeds, watering, cropping, and general farm maintenance. Council would provide materials at no cost to the landholder.
“This project would provide labour and materials, and also psychological benefits to farmers who feel isolated and helpless due to the drought, and feel overwhelmed with the compounding financial circumstances,” Council’s business paper stated.
Long-term, Council would create a one-stop shop for drought assistance, a support package solving issues and challenges local landholders face due to the drought.
It has been developed in discussion with the Rural Support Services Networks and members of the GLENRAC Committee of Management, representing landholders across the LGA.
Council would install a water stand pipe at Deepwater Water Supply so residents in the LGA’s north could have ready access to water.
$360,000 would be spent resheeting roads damaged by the drought.
Sections proposed for resheeting include the worst one or two kilometre sections of Old Ben Lomond Road, Cherry Tree Road, Haymarket Road, Costello’s Road, and Gulf Road; and three kilometres of Shannonvale Road, up to a maximum of nine kilometres (at approximately $40,000 per kilometre).
Council expects these projects to create jobs for farmers and labourers, while local businesses, suppliers, and services would be used to complete the projects.
The scheme would offer economic benefits to the LGA, including increased tourism, trade for local businesses, and improved services resulting from enhanced facilities.