Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell.

Jenny Dowell re-elected to presidency of NOROC

LISMORE mayor Jenny Dowell has been re-elected the chairperson of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils, while Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland has been re-elected deputy.

Cr Dowell said she thought "long and hard" about whether to stand as she is not recontesting the next council election, but said she was committed to supporting NOROC through what would be a "very challenging" next 10 months.

One of the biggest challenges looming for the organisation is the advent of joint organisations (JOs), which will see far more integration between councils, or as the mayor put, it a "beefed up" NOROC.

At its meeting today NOROC also voted to seek an opportunity to be an "early adopter" of the JO model, and the mayors are venturing down to Sydney next week to meet with several ministers about specific issues that affect the Northern Rivers.

"We really do want to be on the front foot. I would expect that we would have close discussions with the government… it's a really fantastic opportunity for all the mayors and GMs to speak in a group to each minister," Cr Dowell said.

Either way, by the September 10 council election next year the new joint organisational structure must be in place and will include a full-time executive officer and possibly extra administrative staff.

"At this stage there's talk of having $300,000 to implement the joint organisation," Cr Dowell said.

"A concern expressed by councils is that this could just be another level of government.

"It will be interesting to see what the model is. It's clear that the kind of things a joint organisation will do will require a close working relationship with some of the state government agencies."

Either way, the model will supersede NOROC, but Cr Dowell said the close working relationship between the seven councils through the existing organisation was crucial to the future.

"We have a really good working relationship between the working councils, and any new structure will require and rely on good relationships."

Cr Dowell congratulated Cr Mulholland on her re-election and said Kyogle had an important role to play in the region's future despite their present challenges over amalgamation and long-term financial situation.

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