Forbes Shire Council elections are coming up on December 4 and the Advocate is profiling our candidates beginning with current councillors who are going to stand again. They'll be featured, in alphabetical order, over the coming week ...
Forbes Shire Council has ticked off record capital expenditure in the past few years, but current mayor Phyllis Miller has clear ideas about her goals for the next term.
Her sights are set firmly on advocating for a new operating theatre at the Forbes hospital, and on partnerships that can encourage more doctors to come to regional communities.
"I want to see our operating theatre at our hospital replaced and an increase in our day surgery numbers to bring our present theatre up to capacity," Mayor Miller said.
As far as attracting more doctors goes, Mayor Miller foresees a three-way partnership between local, State and Federal governments.
Acknowledging the excellent work local doctors have done working to host medical students and GP registrars, she also wants to see more fully qualified doctors here for a longer period.
"I would like the Federal Government to have two-year rotation of fully-qualified doctors out of the city," she said.
"Federal Government would be responsible for paying them $50,000 a year either cash or their HECS bills for two years, we (local government) would house them, and we would expect the State to pay them properly."
Two years, she feels, is a good length of time for at least some of those doctors to choose to make their home in Forbes.
An operating theatre at capacity would also increase the diversity of work and the attraction for more doctors.
Reflecting on the past few years, Mayor Miller says she sees the council taking much more customer-friendly approach.
"We are a can-do council, and the staff are making sure we remain a can-do council," she said.
The council has been able to attract significant grant funding to achieve some big projects,
"We've delivered record capital works programs over the last five years, and because we now have our staffing levels at the right level we can deliver," she said.
But Mayor Miller adds it's important that council is not reliant on government funding or grants to build its future.
"I've been a great advocate for own-source revenue, that we have our business units that eventually in time, when we're debt-free, we will have disposable income that will deliver for our community," Mayor Miller said.
The Central West Livestock Exchange, medical centres and caravan park are a few examples of those.
"We do have an asset base that generates own-source income which is terribly important," she said.
One significant recent achievement was having the interest on the loan to kickstart the Goldridge Estate development covered.
"We borrowed $4million off TCorp (the financial markets partner of the NSW public sector) to kickstart that housing estate and the former Deputy Premier was so impressed that they gave us a grant for the interest on that to invest back in the estate - that was $160,000 plus," Mayor Miller said.
As she looks ahead to the December elections, Mayor Miller urges community members to consider standing for council.
"I love local government," she said.
"I've been on council 26 years and had nine as mayor and I wouldn't pass up any of it."
If you're concerned about a lack of knowledge or experience, training is always available.
"My view was to go and serve my community in whatever capacity that was and I soon learned," Mayor Miller said.