Only recontending Wodonga councillor to have not been mayor admits he would like to lead the city

MIKE Fraser has declared his intention to become mayor of Wodonga if he is re-elected to the city’s council.

Aiming high: Wodonga councillor Mike Fraser with his dog Charlie at Willow Park. He would like to become mayor if re-elected. Picture: ELENOR TEDENBORG

Aiming high: Wodonga councillor Mike Fraser with his dog Charlie at Willow Park. He would like to become mayor if re-elected. Picture: ELENOR TEDENBORG

The accountant is the only one of the three incumbent councillors standing for election that has not been in the mayoral chair.

"The answer to your question 'would I like to be mayor?', yes I would love to have the opportunity to do it, but that will depend on six others at some stage in the next term,” Cr Fraser said.

After having served under three mayors in his first term, Cr Fraser said: "I think I know enough and I'm ready to make the commitment."

The existing council has been criticised by candidates for a lack of transparency and the seven-member Alliance for Change on Friday vowed to not make “binding decisions” before meetings.

“I would like to see examples of the binding decisions that the candidates believe have been made in private forums,” Cr Fraser said.

“No councillor has made a decision until they’ve put their hand up at the meeting.”

However, Cr Fraser conceded if he was re-elected he would go into greater detail at council meetings about his decision-making process.

He warned newcomers to the council that his experience had shown it was not easy to deliver immediately on promises.

"You've got to learn how to ask the question to get the right answer, the answer you want first up,” Cr Fraser said.

"It takes you two years to work out what's going on and that ship is already moving

"The stuff you want done you need to get it on the list early, because in the first six to eight months we will set the council plan for the next four years.

"If you've got stuff you want done that isn't on that list it's bloody hard to get it added later on."

The former Wodonga Ratepayers’ Association chairman defends the financial management of the council, saying debt had been cut and a rate cap of 2.5 per cent would be manageable.

Mr Fraser said an employee level of 240 full-time equivalent staff had been maintained through natural attrition with no new positions created. 

He wants the council’s debt to stay below $30 million, although notes the development of a new sporting ground will require extra money.

"My personal preference is debt will not get above $30 million,” Cr Fraser said.

"Before we take another set of borrowings.. and that will be Baranduda Fields..(I would like to) get the debt level in and around the low twenties and then we may well cycle but not get above.

"We were going to borrow $2.5 million this year and somewhere between six and eight is in the forecast for next year.

"Given the last financial results I will be pushing that we will not be borrowing this year.

"We've forecast to be at $25 million at the end of 2016, we basically pay off $2 million a year, so next year we were going to pay off two to borrow another two.”

Cr Fraser is having a third tilt at council, after missing out on preferences initially.