Creating a more transparent and financially conservative council is top of the agenda for former councillor Paul Funnell as he eyes a return to the table.
The 58-year-old was forced to resign from his position on Wagga City Council due to serious concerns about his health in June, but after months of treatment he is feeling strong enough to return to the position he held for nearly nine years.
"I am not feeling 100 per cent yet but I am definitely feeling 1000 per cent better than I was when I had to resign," Mr Funnell said.
"The treatment has started to kick in and I'm more mobile and feel like I'm capable of returning, provided I manage my life correctly and don't burn the candle at both ends."
The outspoken irrigation and sheep farmer will be the third name on the Clean Out Council ticket.
Mr Funnell moved to Wagga from West Wyalong in 1986 and the father-of-four recently became a grandfather for the first time.
The candidate began his career as a fitter and machinist but has also worked in pubs and managed multiple large businesses.
If elected, Mr Funnell plans to make the role his number one priority and return to fighting for more transparency from council.
"The biggest thing at the moment is more transparency and honesty because at the moment it's in the doghouse," he said.
"The community needs to know what we're doing and why we're doing it and the councillors have to be there to hold the general manager to account."
Mr Funnell said the city's budget is currently "a massive issue" and work must be done to ensure council does not take on unnecessary expensive projects.
"They're blaming COVID but that's a load of garbage," he said. "Obviously it impacts in some ways but we went from having a future-proof budget to nine years of rolling deficits and that is not acceptable.
"We have ballooning costs and we can't just keep increasing rates and tax ourselves into oblivion. The budget is a massive issue and if it means we have to sacrifice a few to save many, then so be it."
According to Mr Funnell, addressing the budget would help council to focus on improving the state of infrastructure across the region.
He said in the 35 years he has lived in Wagga he has never seen the city's infrastructure in "such an appalling condition".
"We have to get on top of our infrastructure and that doesn't mean just going out and borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars," he said.
"We've got to have a plan in place. We should have a cupboard full of what I call 'shoebox-ready' projects.
"Then when some funding becomes available you can pull the project off the shelf and get it started."
Mr Funnell said he will be pushing for council to "say no" to the state and federal governments when they push expensive projects onto local government.
In the lead up to this year's election, The Daily Advertiser has profiled the candidates looking to secure a spot on Wagga City Council.
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