Stink over sewage plant opening ceremony
By Helen Jack and Brian Bigg RICHMOND Valley Council has caused another stink in the community.
This time there's a smell about the council's plan to spend more than $11,000 on a ceremony and plaque to officially open Evans Head's new sewage plant later this year.
The cost of the ceremony surprised and angered community members, especially members of the Woodburn-Evans Head RSL Sub-branch who were being asked a few weeks ago to pay a $10,000 fee to allow them to stage their Anzac Day march. But mayor Charlie Cox says he cannot see why there is so much fuss.
He also cannot see why there has been a comparison made between this decision and the RSL controversy. "They are different issues," Cr Cox said.
The decision to spend the money on the opening ceremony was made after considerable discussion, with Cr Ray Jefferies voting against on the grounds it was inequitable.
"We go to the ratepayers and talk about increasing sewerage fees, and now we are going to blow $11,000 to have a good time," Cr Jefferies said.
Cr Col Sullivan said he was in favour of the ceremony because it was one of the biggest projects council had completed in recent years.
"It's a difficult situation (especially) with the rate increase no one liked, but I believe to lock out the community is wrong," he said. Mayor Cox said: "This should not be a second-rate opening ceremony.
"I am disappointed some people have misunderstood the magnitude of the construction of this plant, and the achievement of council against the odds."
Woodburn-Evans Head RSL Sub-branch president Darrel Pobje said he was surprised at the council's decision.
"I think it's disgusting they can squander $11,000 on a party and have the audacity to ask Diggers not to march (at Woodburn) on Anzac Day," he said.
Evans Head Ratepayers' Association secretary Richard Gates said he thought the idea of a ceremony was disgusting.
"Here we have a council that could not find the money for an Anzac Day march, but can find the money for a plaque for itself," he said.
The ceremony is expected to take place in the new financial year with money to be allocated from the 2007/8 budget.