Have your say

This weekend the men and women who will lead the region’s councils over the next four years will be decided.

They will be the ones to set the level of annual rate rises and choose where those rates are spent.

They will listen to the community’s complaints and ideas and decide which projects, such as new sports and recreation facilities and road upgrades, are future priorities.

For many of us, local government is the tier of governance with the most direct impact on our lives.

It is responsible for ensuring we have safe roads and footpaths, that we and our children have parks and sports facilities for play and libraries for learning.

It collects our rubbish, resolves neighborhood disputes over fences and barking dogs and brings major events to entertain us.

It is surprising then that so few of us seem to care enough about our own backyard to have a say on how it is run.

Voter participation in council elections across the State is lower than in previous years.

Just 30% of people are expected to have their say and voter participation rates in Hills councils is currently well below that.

Only 17% of residents in the Mt Barker Council district had voted by Monday night.

That means just 2700 people out of an eligible 17,800 could decide who will be making those big decisions over the next four years.

This is especially important for a rapidly changing place such as Mt Barker.

What is agreed to in the next term will set the course for this expanding district well beyond the next decade.

The incoming council will buy land for new sport and recreation facilities and decide when those are developed.

It will decide whether more land will be rezoned for commercial and industrial use to create local jobs and will likely make plans for a new multi-million dollar civic centre in the Mt Barker CBD, perhaps even for a new pool.

The council will need dedicated elected members with the time, knowledge and skills to deal with complex issues.

If you’ve ever had a whinge about your local council, now is the time to pick up a pen, fill in your ballot paper and do something about it.