I CONGRATULATE Whipstick ward councillors Ruffell, Cox and Williams on holding a recent ratepayers’ meeting in the Huntly Hall.
I welcome the news that similar meetings are planned for the future.
One can only hope that councillors in the Lockwood and Eppalock wards will soon copy this initiative.
Meetings with ratepayers provide opportunities for reviewing administrative decisions and for identifying areas of the council’s performance which need to be reformed.
I understand that the Huntly meeting did not include council officers – a sensible decision.
But the whole process would be improved were the councillors supported by a couple of research officers who report directly to the mayor rather than to council’s chief executive.
These officers could then follow up on queries and ensure that follow-up research work did not fall on the backs of councillors.
Appointments of research officers are common at other levels of government and in a growing number of councils.
There is plenty of slack in the council’s staffing right now so no increase in staffing costs needs be involved in the suggested appointments.
The initiative of mayor Ruffell and her colleagues is a noteworthy event in Bendigo and the suggested research support would make it even better.