CRACKS are starting to appear in Orange City Council less than a week after almost half the councillors described the harmony and cohesiveness of the 12-strong council as a key achievement of the first 12 months in office.
Last Tuesday councillors chose to elect the chairmen of the five key council portfolios by secret ballot rather than a show of hands, a move that has been slammed by one of the councillors sidelined in the reshuffle.
Cr Glenn Taylor accused his fellow councillors of failing to show leadership, saying the ballot was an attempt to unseat Cr Reg Kidd as chair of the Infrastructure Policy Committee.
“I felt the council had worked well together in the last 12 months,” he said.
“The spirit of that co-operation was broken on Tuesday night.”
Cr Taylor lost his bid to keep the status quo for the heads of all five committees, services, environment and economic development, finance and sustainable development.
Three of the chairmen were elected unopposed, but Cr Kidd prevailed as infrastructure policy chair, despite competition from Cr Kevin Duffy.
Cr Taylor said it prompted his decision to accept a nomination to chair the Services Policy Committee, challenging the incumbent Cr Ron Gander.
Cr Gander said the choice of committee chairs should be down to ability, not loyalties and personalities.
He said there were factions within the council, but a secret ballot allowed each councillor to vote freely without repercussions.
Cr Jeff Whitton said he was disappointed newly-elected deputy mayor Cr Chris Gryllis spearheaded the secret ballot, but conceded he was entitled to do so.
“For committees it should be a transparent processes,” he said.
“The perception is that closed ballots are done to allow voters to vote differently to what they may have committed to.
“It gives an air of underhandedness in what has been a transparent working council.”
Cr Gryllis said he asked for a secret ballot on request of other councillors and Tuesday’s events were a “storm in a tea cup”.
“I had no intention of getting rid of anyone,” he said.
“I wouldn’t mind in the future if we had a show of hands for [electing] mayor and deputy mayor as long as there’s some consistency.”
Cr Kidd agreed, but said other councillors were unlikely to agree.
Cr Taylor said he was disappointed to miss out on heading the Services Policy Committee
“I’ve been involved since the day I was elected and I’ve never chaired a committee,” he said.
“I deserved the support of my councillors, the mayor and the deputy mayor and I didn’t receive that.”
Policy committees play musical chairs
THE status quo will remain for four out five Orange City Council portfolios and 15 community working parties will be formalised into committees.
Councillors divvied up the positions of the five policy committees where all 12 councillors make decisions and on nine community committees last week.
Cr Reg Kidd will stay on as infrastructure chair, as will Cr Ron Gander as services chair, Cr Chris Gryllis as finance chair and Cr Jeff Whitton as sustainable development committee (SDC) chair.
But the environment and economic development committee will now be chaired by Cr Neil Jones after the incumbent Cr Kevin Duffy did not nominate.
The councillor involvement on the community committees will remain largely unchanged.
Long-time Community Safety and Crime Prevention committee chair Cr Glenn Taylor stood down from the role, saying he felt he had become stale after so many years at the helm and hoped fellow committee member Cr Jason Hamling would step up as chair.
He also left the Ageing committee and the Orange Regional Museum Commitee, meaning he will now only serve on the Access Committee.
Cr Duffy stood down from the Environment Sustainability committee, but joined three committees: Community Safety, Bicycling and Floodplain Risk Management.
In other additions Cr Kidd joined the Ageing Fommittee and Cr Jones joined the economic cluster groups.