On Thursday, March 12 the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) under the leadership of Mayor Joe Paronella sat for the very last time.
Mayor Paronella said that “it was “probably one of the shortest agendas but one of the longest meetings we’ve had.”
“It was a good meeting, it’s something I’m going to miss, our presentations and deputations were very good.”
Mayor Paronella was a Councillor for the Atherton shire from 2000 until 2008 and thought his time in council was done until he was approached to run for the top job in 2016.
“I was approached by some local business people and I felt that I had something to offer and a direction that we should be going.
“My wife and I planned on retiring 4 years ago, so this was never a long term career move and now in a few weeks my wife and I will finally be able to retire.
“When I came into council as Mayor, I always said I was only going to do one term. My reason for running was to get the shire heading in the right direction after the effects of amalgamation and de-amalgamation.”
One of the biggest criticisms from TRC ratepayers has been the rise of rates on the Tablelands something Mayor Paronella says is unavoidable.
“Nobody should ever be naive to think that rates won’t go up, rates will always go up because if a council doesn’t put rates up by at least CPI, you’re going to go backwards. it’s just like a business, there are costs involved; all things go up like wages, vehicles, fuel it all goes up.
“The costs of running council are always rising but we try to keep everything to a minimum.”
As for plans for his retirement, Mr Paronella said “my wife has pages and pages of jobs to do around the house.
“Wendy and I want to see some parts of the world, but we will have to wait and see what Covid-19 does to those plans”
“Both of us want to take it easier, we are involved in a lot of community groups. We hope to still be a big part of the volunteer side of the community and take it a little bit easier.”
While in office Mayor Paronella says he has been proud of what he and the other councillors achieved in the last 4 years. “Everything we’ve done over the past 4 years has been for the benefit of the region and I’m very proud of the decisions that my council made. A lot of them have been very tough decisions that would not be popular but it was the best result for the whole community overall,” he said
As Joe’s final days as leader of the TRC approach, he admits he has a lot of people to thank.
“I would like to thank all the constituents who have supported the council over the past four years.
“Councillors are elected members and we make the decisions but we really do need to have qualified officers and staff who can advise us when we have questions.
“So really it’s all our staff, our CEO, our General Managers and all the quality staff who make the whole organisation work as a team. I can’t thank just one or two people, I need to thank hundreds of people”
Joe Paronella’s last day as TRC Mayor is March 27.