Nambucca Shire mayor tells it like it is

View of the year ahead from the mayoral chair

When you ask Nambucca Shire mayor, Rhonda Hoban, what is the top of her list for the next 12 months, her answer is always the same …

“I know it never changes, but providing value for money for the services our ratepayers receive is always top of my list,” Rhonda said.

“How we go about doing that is another question – but that is always our starting point.”

What she is looking forward to ...

Valla Urban Growth Area

“I would like to see progress on this council project – maybe to the point of even selling some sites.

“I know some people describe this as a “new town, the size of Nambucca Heads” but you have to remember this is a long way off – this is very long term planning for the future growth of Nambucca Heads. Housing and employment is needed, and will always be needed.

This is about ensuring the land is there and reducing the possibility of land use conflicts in other areas.

Mayor Rhonda Hoban

“This site was selected over 20 years ago after extensive searching around the shire – given our topography and the current legislative and environmental requirements, this area meets all the criteria.”

Regarding the naming of the area, she said submissions received overwhelmingly requested no change: “Current residents don’t really want to have to change their addresses”.

Shire bridges

“After 15 years ‘eating away at this elephant’, we are really making progress, and in fact coming to the end of our timber bridge replacement program.

“Our bridge crew are amazing – they have really grasped the nettle when it comes to learning new methods of construction.

“We are now using concrete piers for our saltwater bridges and pre-cast concrete decks for other bridges, both of which extend the life enormously.

Lanes Bridge is the first complete concrete bridge we’ve built in the shire – so we are starting big!

Mayor Rhonda Hoban

“I think our staff and crew are very brave, because there is no room for error with concrete.

“They have been doing a fantastic job – all the deck framework is now seated on the piers – and there was only 30-50mm margins there, so that is fantastic.”

Road maintenance

“Staff continue to trial different gravel resheeting mixes for our road … I am particularly keen for the shire to use recycled materials. We are part of the Coffs Coast Waste Agreement, so I think we need to lead to way in creating and using recycled products wherever possible.

“And the only way to find out if things work is to give them a go. Our staff do their homework and the research – they are always looking for products that offer improvements, environmentally and financially. If it’s cheaper and better, I’m interested.”

Some things that give her frown a work-out:

Waste challenges

“This is really a high priority given the impacts of the China Sword policy and the NSW Government’s revocation of our waste exemption. 

“The whole reason the Nambucca Shire went for this recycling was for the environmental benefits and we want that to continue. We need to create a useable product and find a market for it.

“At the moment Coffs Harbour City Council is working with the contractors to look at all the options including continuing to recycle materials.

The council expects that any additional costs will be covered by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) on an ongoing basis

Mayor Rhonda Hoban

“ … we also expect them to pay any costs incurred in any changes in methods required.”

Rhonda said the millions of dollars made by the State Government from the waste levy should be used to help councils re-calibrate.

Pacific Highway handover

“We have now been told this will not take place until after June 30, in the next financial year. This concerns me because with the elections coming, I can see money being spent on campaigning, leaving little left over for the councils.

“Also, we’ve been negotiating for nearly two years – the thought of starting all over again with a new government does not appeal.”

And a final word: 

“Presenting the shire to the wider community to attract visitors and new residents is something we are always working on.

“Beautifying areas and working on environmental programs … we have got a lot of grant funding for programs and now we need to get all that happening.

“There is a lot to do on top of our normal maintenance but I think residents will notice the improvements in council facilities, the library, the foreshores and river, as well as sporting fields.”

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