DESPITE concerns from councillors, Bathurst Regional Council will again utilise the services of the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) at the next local government election in 2024.
Following the last election in late 2021, long-time councillors Ian North and Warren Aubin urged council to investigate other parties that could run the next election.
They were concerned about the quality of the services provided in 2021 and the increasing costs council has incurred from the NSWEC at each election.
Over the last decade alone, the cost to hold an election has risen from $216,353 to $316,119, excluding GST.
The cost of the 2021 election was around $75,000 more than the previous election in 2017, with council having to pay for two pre-poll venues and an office for the returning officer due to COVID-19.
Typically there would be just one pre-poll venue, from which the returning officer would work throughout the election period.
Already, council is anticipating to have to pay $323,000 for the 2024 election, but the eventual bill could be higher.
Despite the calls to find an alternate election services provider, council last week resolved to utilise the NSWEC again in 2024.
Council is required to resolve to enter into an agreement with the NSWEC at least 18 months prior to the election.
Cr North told the Western Advocate that there wasn't a better option available to council at this time, somewhat forcing it to engage the electoral commission again.
"We had a working party a couple of weeks ago to talk about it. There's not a lot of alternatives that we can use," he said.
"I got David [Sherley, council's general manager] to explain to the new councillors how the cost has just gone up dramatically. It's just ridiculous how much it has gone up.
"... Until there's another option, there's not a lot we can do."
At last week's council meeting, Cr North again highlighted the issues he and other candidates encountered during the 2021 election, including rules around signage not being enforced and being unable to get answers from the NSWEC hotline staff.
Cr Aubin seconded his comments, with both of them calling for services to be improved at the next election.
"When you're spending decent money for a service, you should be getting that decent service and unfortunately that was lacking amazingly," Cr Aubin said.
"Hopefully next time around we get value for money and bang for our buck, as it were, and answers to questions straight away that we ask."
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