TWO years after City of Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes joined the lead advocacy body for the state's 128 councils, she has taken on a senior executive role as treasurer - elected 242 votes to 145 at this week's Local Government NSW (LGNSW) conference.
Cr Nelmes said she will help push for a fairer deal for ratepayers, after a LGNSW report revealed state government 'cost-shifting' to local councils had increased by 78 per cent over five years to $1.36 billion last year.
"City of Newcastle currently pays more to the state government in fees and charges than we receive in grants," she said.
"Newcastle ratepayers deserve a fairer deal."
Cr Nelmes said ratepayers shouldn't be forced to "pick up the tab" for the state government's programs, arguing recent media reports about cost-shifting underscored the importance of LGNSW's campaigns for fair treatment of ratepayers and respect for the difficult work council staff do for the community.
As a previous non-executive director, Cr Nelmes said that experience coupled with her tertiary business qualifications and graduation from the Australian Institute of Company Directors was recognised by her local government colleagues in the ballot results.
Nine Newcastle councillors went to the conference where more than 400 voting delegates attended from across the state.
Those delegates vote on motions brought to the conference by councils from across the state, and in the election for board positions.
Newcastle had seven voting delegates, who are selected by the mayor - the Newcastle Herald understands these voting rights were awarded to the city's Labor councillors.
Cr Nelmes takes over the role from Cr Nathan Hagarty, who earned $87,606 for his LGNSW sitting fee and external boards combined, including superannuation.
The external boards aren't tied to the treasurer position and the fees are not funded by City of Newcastle council or ratepayers.
Last year the treasurer's sitting fee was $5350, and Cr Nelmes is expected to earn the same or similar.
She joins LGNSW re-elected president Cr Darriea Turley from Broken Hill, vice presidents mayor Phylis Miller from Forbes Shire and Cr Khal Asfour from Canterbury-Bankstown on the executive group, along with 14 other directors elected from across the state.
Cr Turley congratulated Cr Nelmes on an excellent campaign and "outstanding win".
It comes in the same week Cr Nelmes celebrated nine years as mayor, becoming one of Newcastle's longest serving in the role.
City of Newcastle took motions to the conference on housing affordability, liveable and accessible housing design, climate mitigation and adaptation, protection of street trees and accelerated development applications, all of which will now become LGNSW advocacy priorities.
The advocacy body provides services to local councils, including policy advice, professional development, industrial relations support, legal support and procurement.
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