Former Dubbo mayor Greg Matthews said he decided to stand for the upcoming Dubbo Regional Council election because he wants to help guide council through what he expects to be a difficult time.
Mr Matthews, who will stand in the Central Dubbo ward, said the next three to four years would be important for the newly amalgamated council and said not all decisions that would be made would be popular.
He said there were some complex issues the next council would have to work through to try and achieve parity for all ratepayers.
“I’ve been looking at the challenges that are going to be faced and they will need experienced people looking at them,” he said.
“Take water for example. Dubbo pays less than Wellington, so do we take Dubbo’s prices up, bring Wellington’s down, or something in the middle.
“For sewerage it’s the opposite, Wellington pays about $100 less than Dubbo, so there is a lot that will have to be worked out.”
Some of the decisions that have to be made during the next term of council may not be popular, Mr Matthews said.
“I don’t think this next council it going to be a popular one because some hard decisions are going to have to be made,” he said.
“You have some candidates promising a chicken for every pot but the money’s just not there.”
He said the most important thing council could do over the next few years was try to ensure rates remain low while maintaining services.
And while it looked like the organic waste bin, or third bin proposal, for Dubbo would be given a green light before the new council was elected, Mr Matthews said the council may be able to look for ways to offset the cost for ratepayers.
“Almost 66 per cent of a rates bill is service charges, just one third is actual rates and while rates are pegged, charges can be moved.
“There might be opportunities to find other savings for ratepayers so the cost of the extra service is negated.”
Mr Matthews was part of a campaign with fellow former mayors Allan Smith and Mathew Dickerson last month that pushed for a plebiscite within the DRC to find out the level of support for a merger.
He said he still thought a plebiscite would be good to find out where the community stood on the issue, but also said he was focused on making the new council succeed.
Mr Matthews said it was important that everyone who was elected to council was working to improve the region, rather than for self interest.
“I will do what needs to be done to make Dubbo regional Council a success, whether it is popular or not. I would like to see the popularity contest put to one side and everyone do the hard work.”