Murray Bridge council watch: August 2021

The latest on a budget blow-out, "roads, rates and rubbish", a warning about trees, an idea for Lerwin and more.

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The Murray Bridge council has had a $1.2 million budget blow-out in providing services to ratepayers during the past financial year, a review has revealed.

The figure was noted in in a quarterly review of the council’s budget for 2020-21, and pointed out by Councillor Airlie Keen at a meeting on Monday night.

Chief executive officer Michael Sedgman admitted that the council had “had some overruns”.

“That’s in the context of the delivery of a $32.9 million capital program for the financial year, where a lot of the project management costs were ... borne internally,” he said.

“(But) the headline numbers are the headline numbers.”

A build-up of staff members’ annual leave had also been partly to blame, he said: “in this new COVID world, people don’t take leave because they can’t go anywhere”.

Councils these days need to be about more than just roads, rates and rubbish, Murray Bridge’s mayor says. Photo: Rural City of Murray Bridge/Facebook.

People expect more than just roads, rates and rubbish, mayor argues

Modern-day councils need to be about more than just roads, rates and rubbish, Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis says.

Councillors approved a regional health and wellbeing plan on Monday night, which prompted Cr Clem Schubert to ask why the council was getting involved in that sort of thing.

“Addressing drug and substance abuse, climate change, disease outbreaks, community wellbeing and resilience ... it’s all money, it’s all time, and there’s there's people in these fields,” he said.

“We haven’t got the staff or the expertise.

“How far do we want to get involved?”

Mr Lewis said the council was legally required to have the health plan, but said it was important for the council to get involved in various issues anyway.

“We’ve moved into the area of community leadership and advocacy,” he said.

“We’re in a favourable position to represent our community as a bona fide voice, and we use that voice often in the interest of our community.

“I think that’s local government, today, in 2021.”

Projects such as Murray Bridge’s emergency department upgrade and new high school building would not have happened without advocacy from local authorities, he argued.

Look after your trees, council warns

Landowners need to take responsibility for the trees on their properties, the council has reminded its residents.

Councillors have approved a minor change to the council’s tree management policy, noting that fact.

“Not that long ago we had large gum trees falling over near the city centre, causing a lot of damage, and a tree falling over that probably should never have been planted,” Mayor Brenton Lewis said.

He hoped that would not happen again.

Anyone planning to chop down a tree, or significantly trim it, may need to seek development approval from the council.

Council workers regularly check trees on public land, including those along roadsides.

Railway precinct plan gets the thumbs-up

A plan to preserve and enhance four historic railway buildings in Murray Bridge has been finalised.

Just three residents gave feedback on the draft management plan for the city’s historic railway precinct, located near the Round House, but all gave it glowing praise.

“The idea of creating more walking paths and gardens hopefully will encourage folk to take more pride in our city and history,” one said.

How about memory boxes at Lerwin?

Residents at Lerwin, the council-owned aged care facility, should be given “memory boxes” to display items of importance to them, a councillor has suggested.

Cr Karen Eckermann said she had heard of nursing homes overseas using display cases as a talking point for visitors or staff, and a memory cue for residents with dementia or memory issues.

The council’s aged care governance committee will look into the idea.