Gunnedah Shire Council will investigate a request from the NSW Police Force to provide subsidised housing to help fill job vacancies.
At their ordinary meeting on Wednesday, councillors unanimously resolved to investigate the matter but were divided on which body should be responsible.
Cr Hasler said such incentives “should be provided by the government, not the community”.
“It’s concerning if we think it’s our obligation as a community to provide accommodation for the police,” he said.
“That is a considerable imposition on our community, which I think no other community pays. Why are we setting a precedent?
“I don’t believe it’s a problem which this community should be taking on board.”
In a letter to mayor Jamie Chaffey on October 18, District Superintendent Fred Trench said “the cost of suitable housing” had been a barrier to filling positions at Gunnedah Police Station.
“As far as this command is concerned, the availability of good-quality accommodation at a reasonable rental would greatly assist the task of attracting quality suitable applicants to vacancies at the Gunnedah Police Station.”
He said he could see “great benefit” if the council invested in residential property to lease to police officers and “other professionals moving into the area”.
Councillor Gae Swain said she was interested to find out “what the report brings back and what the need is”.
“My concern was along the lines of what Cr Hasler articulated,” Cr Swain said.
“My concern is: once we start this, how far down the line do we go?”
I think no other community pays. Why are we setting a precedent?- Gunnedah councillor Owen Hasler
Councillor Colleen Fuller said she would like to find out how much it would cost to supply housing.
“We may attract more police to the Gunnedah district and that’s the hope,” she said.
“If it means we have to buy a house or two in the future, I would be voting for that.”
Cr Moses said he supported looking into the proposal because he was worried Gunnedah police officers were “burning out”.
Factors the council will consider include the number of houses required, purchase prices, rental returns, maintenance costs and potential capital gains tax.
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