The Lithgow Mercury polled readers on the issues they consider most important in the community.
This week, we look at the finances of Lithgow Council.
Candidate Peter Pilbeam did not respond by the deadline.
Maree Statham (Group F lead candidate)
We will be guided by the council staff regarding finances for our areas. We will see to it that jobs unable to be undertaken in-house are tendered correctly to ensure the highest of works are undertaken, whilst being cost-effective. Ensuring there is scrutiny of the tender process is also a major consideration. Looking at projects which benefit the entire area should take precedence.
Steven Ring (Group B lead candidate)
During this term of Council, I have been an active member of both the Finance Committee and the Audit Risk and Improvement Committee and have overseen considerable improvement in the standard of financial management.
No longer is there a need to raise in excess of 20 questions in relation to quarterly financial reports, as I did at the November 2016 meeting. Why, because budgets are no longer prepared by adding a percentage increase to the previous year's budget. Instead, zero budgeting has been introduced and the budgets reflect the documented needs of each department.
The continuation of good financial management requires ongoing oversight by the elected Councillors and this is most critical when determining where funds should be allocated.
Elected Councillor have an obligation to give effect to the communities wishes through the preparation of a community strategic plan. Although projects desired by the community may not be able to be funded during the new term of Council, funds and resources should be allocated to allow professional plans to be prepared in the event that grant opportunities become available.
The funding of projects for assets such as roads, sewer or water should be based on consistent and publicly available criteria with public safety as a key priority.
Darryl Goodwin (Group D lead candidate)
Ongoing consultation with the council administration and the community is essential to understanding the financial capacity of the council against the priorities of the community.
As councillors, it is our responsibility to be informed to understand and recognise the defined revenue streams and how funding is allocated to both operational and capital expenditure and its impact on the local community, ratepayers, businesses, and tourism.
Several projects are proposed to council for consideration and are assessed based on merit.
Some are 'shovel' ready projects and others are independent council funded projects. It is our responsibility as councillors to meet with locals and community groups to discuss the projects and advocate to Council those that are fit for purpose and enhance the LGA.
Furthermore, successful assessment of projects and allocation of funding can only be achieved by councillors working together and collaborating with council administration to ensure best outcomes are delivered.
Cassandra Coleman (Group A lead candidate)
Budget discipline is critical to the successful operation of the Council. Lithgow Council faces many financial challenges, whether the 100s of kilometres of urban and rural roads or ageing water and sewerage systems.
Council also needs to invest in what makes Lithgow a great place to live, our parks, sports grounds, bushland reserves, shared cycle and walking trails, lookouts, campgrounds, swimming pools, and a range of community services such as libraries.
The Cass Coleman Community Team believes strongly that the community needs to have a voice in establishing priorities for new projects they would like to see Council investing in.
This can be achieved through participation in the community planning processes available to every resident and community group to take part in.
Our team will work hard to make the community more aware of their opportunity to have a say in how Council will operate. Grants will also need to play a central role in the Council's ability to deliver high-quality projects without all funds coming from ratepayers.
My team includes Eric Mahony, who has 25 years writing grants for Councils, community groups and working for funding bodies who decided on funding for many local government areas.
Our team is also strongly committed to ensuring that small rural communities are seen and heard in this process and their needs are not forgotten.
Stephen Lesslie (Group E lead candidate)
It was my initiative as Mayor to establish a Council Finance Committee so that Councillors could question the staff on the budget and any variations to it on a regular basis. We also need to encourage people with extensive business and financial expertise to stand for Council. I am doing just that. My number 2 in this election is a highly successful businessman and tourism entrepreneur.