Kiama council's year of change and challenge

Last week I updated the Kiama and District Business Chamber, at the annual Mayoral Breakfast, on the work of Council over the last year or so. I’d like to share some of that address with you as well. The last year has been one of change and challenge. Michael Forsyth retired after 17 years as General Manager, but we have been fortunate to have a more than able replacement in Kerry McMurray.

Kiama Mayor, Cr Mark Honey.

Kiama Mayor, Cr Mark Honey.

New Director Environmental Services, Linda Davis, is one of the most experienced and respected planners in NSW. Linda has wasted no time bringing our community together to collaborate on the Kiama Town Centre Study and the Local Strategic Planning Statement.

We have made changes to allow Clare Rogers to focus exclusively on our wide range of aged care services, as Director Blue Haven. This includes the $104 million Kiama Aged Care Centre of Excellence (Blue Haven Bonaira). Clare and her Blue Haven staff achieved a perfect report card from the Aged Care regulator for running Blue Haven Care Home. An outstanding outcome.

Director Engineering and Works, Gino Belsito, has had a lot on his plate with the Minnamurra Boardwalk and Cycleway, upgrades to Jamberoo Pool, installing new playgrounds at Bonaira Oval, Gainsborough Reserve, extending the Jamberoo cycleway to Browns Lane, repairing and upgrading the jetty at Kiama Harbour, building more than 86 new car spaces at Kiama Leisure Centre and replacing the old timber bridge at Carrington Falls.

Rob Owens, our new Director Corporate and Commercial Services, comes to us from Georges River and Shellharbour City Council. He is an ideal replacement for Kerry, ensuring Council continues to deliver against it’s long-term financial plan, including the Special Rate Variation. Kerry and Rob are to be commended for keeping the community as informed as possible about why we need the SRV.

Council’s new tourism and events unit, Destination Kiama, has hit the ground running, producing the Strategic Tourism and Events Plan, Tourism Opportunities Plan and Events Strategy. They’ve also established a partnership program, events training, an events funding program, and the Above and Beyond Awards to recognise excellence in tourism. Council continues to invest in our five holiday parks, with $6 million to be invested in Werri Beach Holiday Park to modernise facilities, and accommodate more visitors.

Our IT team have recently installed a new state-of-the-art phone system to help our customer service team deal with the 40,000 plus phone calls they handle each year. Our planners, customer service, records and IT staff have also just launched a new digital system to lodge development applications. This promises to cut weeks off the current processing time for the 400 development applications Council handles each year.

All of this goes a very long way towards showing you that Council continues to honour the trust placed in it by its community, following the threat of amalgamation. We do this not just by working hard, but working smarter, and working together. Kiama Council is in the business of government and we are good at it. And when we do our job well, everyone benefits.

- Cr Mark Honey