Muswellbrook Community Panel has its say on Special Rate Variation

MUSWELLBROOK Shire Council’s strategy for the future was under the microscope when the Community Panel met for the second time on Saturday.

The panel convened with councillors and senior staff members to discuss, in particular, council’s application for a Special Rate Variation (SRV) and the Future Fund.  

First up was a recap and review of the first community panel meeting, followed by a “meet your councillor” session.

Manager property and buildings Matt Lysaught outlined the Town Centre Masterplan, plans for the newly-acquired Muswellbrook Marketplace and hosted a question and answer session.

Our Regional Projects, an overview of the “priority projects”  that would be funded by a Special Rate Variation, including upgrades to the Olympic Park Precinct and a new regional entertainment and conference centre, followed.

Panel member Tania Dart, of Wybong, said the sessions had given her an insight into the vision council has for the town and the opportunity to meet with councillors outside the election period.

“People need to give the council a bit more credit for what they are doing and their vision,” she said.

“If residents as a whole had the information that we have now they would have a more positive perception of the council. 

“I think the Community Panel is a really good concept.”

The afternoon presentation by chief financial officer Natalia Cowley again explored the potential and the impact of the proposed SRV application.

Community panel member Pete Carmichael, of south Muswellbrook, said he felt that Muswellbrook was in for an exciting time, an exciting future and that he had enjoyed learning about what goes on behind the scenes. 

“This will revamp the town,” he said.

One of the younger members of the Community Panel, Phillip Minter, of Muswellbrook, said he had learnt a lot about what council was doing and that it was good to meet the councillors in person and “have a say”.

The workshops wound up with a group discussion, facilitated by director planning, community and corporate services Fiona Plesman, and the development of questions and information for the next meeting.

“The Community Panel members have made some great suggestions, which council will follow up on and asked a wide range of questions that council will endeavour to answer,” she said.

Sue O’Neill, from Muswellbrook, summed up her experience on the Community Panel.

“I’m getting to know what our council does, what they are planning to do and their vision for our shire,” she said.

“I’m getting involved with our council.

“We didn’t plan to stay here [in Muswellbrook] forever, but it looks like we will now. 

“It’s the people who make Muswellbrook.”