Dollars and sense, says Knox mayor

NEW mayor Karin Orpen has warned that Knox may need to slash spending and services to meet its financial obligations.

Cr Orpen said the two biggest challenges facing the council in her term were inappropriate development and a $11.6 million shortfall in council's employees' superannuation fund.

The Weekly reported earlier this year that the council would be forced to find the money to subsidise the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund gap.

Cr Orpen was the sole nominee for the top job last week, despite several other councillors stating their intention to put their hand up for the position,

She was nominated by outgoing mayor Adam Gill, who said it was great not to be mayor any more.

Cr Gill said it had been a challenging year balancing civic duties with his family — he and his wife Amanda have three children.

Cr Orpen said the challenge to top up the superannuation shortfall was unlike anything the council had faced before.

"Where does that [money] come from?"

She said the council would need to be frugal: "We need to to look at the must-haves and the nice-to-haves and see what the difference is."

Cr Orpen also cited development concerns as an urgent priority. Part of her election platform was to stop the four-storey development in Ferntree Gully Village, but she said over-development wasn't an isolated issue. "There's nothing to stop these [sorts of proposals] springing up in Upper Ferntree Gully, Lysterfield or The Basin."

Divisions in the council were evident during the bitter election campaign, but Cr Orpen said she was confident all nine councillors would work together. "They are a great group of people. That's the beauty of local government — there's diversity in expertise and interest."

Cr Orpen works as a financial planner and she and her husband Bill have three adult daughters. She said they were thrilled she had been elected mayor.

"When I was mayor with younger children, Bill would cook dinner for himself and the girls. But now he'll be cooking it just for himself and the dog."

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