Message from the Shire President

We have just sworn in our returning and new Councillors. I am happy to welcome Councillors Carol Farr and Hellene McTaggart, and welcome back Councillors Cosgrove and Bagley. We will be holding the election for Shire President and Deputy President, as well as nominating Councillors for the Shire’s various committees at the November Council meeting.

Our new Councillors will have plenty to sink their teeth into in the coming months, as we take a good look at the Shire’s long-term strategy in a number of key areas. Chief among these will be ensuring that we are on a sustainable financial path moving into the future. Like virtually all small rural local governments, the Shire of Mingenew receives the majority of its income from the State and Federal governments – which are beyond our Council’s ability to control. As such, it’s important that we have clear plans in place to ensure that we are doing the best we can with what is within our sphere of control to manage any future funding challenges or uncertainty.

While a less engaging topic, but nonetheless an important one, I spent some time this month with Shire staff and our insurers going over the performance of our insurance policies. Local Government is self-insured through a large mutual fund in WA, which means that even small Shires like Mingenew can enjoy the economies of scale of our much larger urban counterparts. It has also meant that we have a range of quite specialised insurance in place for the various pieces of infrastructure we manage and the local government-specific activities that we engage in. Increasingly in our modern world, having appropriate insurance cover is a vital part of any business operation and the old attitude of “She’ll be right, mate” is stuck in the past. Whilst this sometimes creates additional hurdles and hoops to jump through, it also means that the Shire’s assets and people are appropriately protected and the risk exposure to our organisation (and by extension, our ratepayers) is minimised.

Lastly, on a much more exciting note, Halloween has just come and gone and I want to recognise the efforts of our local volunteers who helped to arrange the Trick or Treating and Disco at the Sport’s Club. I was really happy to see plenty of kids (and adults) out enjoying themselves in spite of the weather.

– Cr Helen Newton, Shire President

Roads

We are now into one of our major road projects for the year, the widening of around 9km of the Coalseam Road. While this will cause some inconvenience for harvest traffic (which we will seek to minimise as much as possible), it will mean that – upon completion – the vast majority of Coalseam Road south of the Nanekine Rd intersection will be sealed to two lanes wide.

Council has also recently awarded tenders for the widening and sealing of a 2.5km section near the crossing at the entry to the Coalseam Conservation Park, as well as a further 1km of widening and sealing on Yandanooka North East Road. This bulk of this work will take place over the summer months.

Looking forward to 2020/21, we have received funding to widen and seal a further 3km of the Mingenew-Mullewa Road and have been awarded $660,000 to realign the intersection of Yandanooka North-East Road and Mingenew-Morawa Road. The latter project has been in discussion for some time, so this injection of Main Roads funding is welcome to help this project reach completion.

The construction works mean that we only have one grader available for maintenance – and it is making its way through the Strawberry/Mooriary/Depot Hill area at present.

Mingenew Skate Park

As part of the delivery of our 2019-29 Strategic Community Plan, we are looking to improve and consolidate some of the recreational spaces and facilities in town. To assist with this, we will be seeking input from interested community members to upgrade our existing skate park facility on Shenton Street. If you would be interested in being part of the reference group, please contact cdo@mingenew.wa.gov.au or call the Shire on 9928 1102. There will also be an opportunity for general public submissions and feedback to come.

Mingenew Entry Statements

We are also reviewing our town entry statements, as the maintenance required to keep them looking great all year round places stress on limited town crew resources. We will be seeking community feedback and input into the design process, with a view to coming up with something that reflects our Shire, looks good year-round, and requires less upkeep than the current gardens. Stay tuned for more information on this initiative.

Fire Break Management

We have been making a concerted effort to ensure that appropriate firebreaks and clearing have taken place in the Mingenew townsite ahead of the commencement of the prohibited burning period on 1 November 2019. While most residents do a great job in this area, we ask that everyone does their part to reduce the risk of fire spreading throughout the Shire. This includes keeping branches away from buildings, clearing leaf litter from gutters and ensuring that grass is kept short. For more information, visit click here.

Mosquito Control

The Shire has recently been undertaking a range of mosquito control activities in the Mingenew townsite, this includes fogging and the treatment of standing water. By combining these two approaches, which target adults and larva respectively, we hope to be able to break the mosquito breeding cycle. If you are noticing large numbers of mosquitoes on your property, please let us know so that we can assist. The species of mosquito most common in this area rarely travel far, so there is a good chance they are breeding on or near your property. You can find a helpful checklist of things you can do around the home to discourage mosquitos from breeding or bothering you right here.

Council Meeting Review

Several key decisions were made at the October Council Meeting, across a range of areas.

Firstly, Council has agreed to accept several blocks of land, proposed to be gifted back from a ratepayer. Whilst no formal decision has been made on the future of this land, it does have potential for future residential development – by either the Shire or private parties.

Council has also agreed to enter into a lease on the vacant bank building. Following a public expression of interest campaign, the lease will be offered to the Hinterland Collective, a new business which will see a publishing studio, music recording/practice space and small gallery and gift shop house in the building. It is hoped that the new venture will be operational around February 2020.

Another more procedural, but nonetheless important, decision was regarding the adoption of a Debtor Management Policy for the organisation. Under this new policy, after a set period of time, debtors will start to incur interest charges and Council will be stricter in its use of collections agencies to recover unpaid debts. Whilst this is not a major issue for the organisation at present, it is hoped that it will assist to keep the Shire’s cash flow smooth.

Our October meeting was also the final meeting for Councillors Kym McGlinn and Leah Eardley, as they did not re-nominate for the recent election. In November our new Councillors (Carol Farr and Hellene McTaggart), returning Councillors (Gary Cosgrove and Justin Bagley) will be sworn in.

Tourism Update

As we move out of Wildflower Season, we want to recognise all the hard work of the volunteers in the Mingenew Tourism & Promotions Committee who help to keep the visitor centre open every year. It has been another busy year for the centre, and we have received a lot of positive feedback about the centre, its volunteers and the town as a whole.  Thank you to all!

As we move into the summer months, the Shire is looking to shift focus from wildflowers to stargazing and astrotourism. This is still a fledgling niche in the local tourism industry, but one that we believe Mingenew is in a good position to take advantage of. We are already in the planning stages for some stargazing events around March or April 2020.

Shire Christmas Shutdown

Christmas is less than two months away! We wanted to get in early to let you know that the Shire offices will close for the year on Friday 20 December and reopen on Monday 6 January 2020. During this time there will be a skeleton staff on hand to conduct required maintenance and address any urgent matters, but our offices will be closed.

Shire Contact Lists

With fire season upon us, we will be utilising the Shire’s text message service as well as social media to alert people to any incidents. If you have not already registered for our public messaging database, we suggest that you do so to receive the latest updates. You can simply contact the Shire or visit this webpage. (see the Public Communications tab).

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