New Kingston District Council meets

New council: Michael Ringshaw (back left), Tim Harding, Chris England, Rick Wingard; front - Bill Armfield, Kay Rasheed and Jodie Gluyas. Absent: Jeff Pope.
New council: Michael Ringshaw (back left), Tim Harding, Chris England, Rick Wingard; front - Bill Armfield, Kay Rasheed and Jodie Gluyas. Absent: Jeff Pope.

A new era began for Kingston District Council on Thursday when the newly elected council met for the first time.

Kay Rasheed took the chair for the first time as the new mayor, and three new councillors – Michael Ringshaw, Tim Harding and Bill Armfield – attended their first meeting since winning their positions in the early November election.

Mrs Rasheed said she was looking forward to working with the three new councillors and four returned councillors, and felt it would be a strong council with a diverse skillset.

“I feel very confident working as a team we will make some very sound and positive decisions for our community.”

In the first piece of business, experienced councillor Chris England was elected deputy mayor for a period of two years.

Councillors voted in favour of changing meeting times from 2pm on the second-last Friday of the month, to 3pm on the second-last Tuesday of the month.

The council also considered a request to offer rate relief for Cape Jaffa commercial marina berth-holders, who haven’t been able to use the facility.

In a report, senior property officer Chelsea Burns said two of the berth-holders had asked for relief, however the council considered the request based on all 20 commercial berth assessments.

In 2016, the Cape Jaffa marina experienced significant sand accumulation which resulted in the marina being completely closed and inaccessible for commercial fishermen during the 2016 season. In January 2017, the council provided 100 per cent rate relief to all berth-holders.

Since this time, the council has spent a lot of time and resources on rectifying the issue, and “although significant progress has been made, the channel remains closed to commercial fishing vessels”.

This has meant relocating their vessels, causing significant inconvenience to the commercial fleet.

The 20 commercial berths have an average rating liability of $361.87, meaning that offering 100 per cent rate relief would cost the council $7237.30 (being $5707.30 in general rates and $1530 in SE Natural Resource Management levies).

In answer to a question from Cr Rick Wingard, Ms Burns said any rate refund would have to be paid for through a budget variation, as no money had been set aside.

Councillors were in agreeance with the report that rate relief should be provided.

Cr England said: “As much as I’d like to see them pay rates, if they can’t use the facility...(it’s fair they don’t pay).”

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of granting a full rate rebate.