The Beagle Editor,
Each year our council and our councillors have workshops to discuss where they plan to allocate residents and ratepayers money and decide on the priority’s for budget allocations in the year forward. The process is meant to be open and transparent and reflective of the priorities set based around community wants and needs with the highest priority works earmarked first. Once they adopt the budget which is publicly exhibited it is then fairly well set in stone with the general response for any variation being "we have not budgeted for that, why not put in a submission and we might consider than in an upcoming budget". Should council and our councillors decide however to change direction or priority’s it is usual for for the councillors (and the ratepayers) to receive report or reports advising and justifying those direction changes and the change in priority supporting financial change along with the benefits and consequences. Council have recently been asked why the commitment to build an aquatic arts centre that was endorsed as a high priority in 2013 with a budget allocation to begin seeking tenders was apparently ignored by staff. There is no record of any recision motion to move the facility to Mackay Park nor is there any report to councillors calling for the budget item allocated to be redirected. It is often the case that petty cash might be moved from one account to the next but this was a major decision of Council to go ahead and prepare the project to a shovel ready state with a budget commitment and neither the councillors or the community have been advised that staff decided not to go ahead with it without providing any report or seeking endorsement from the community or councillors. That motion (from 2013) to go ahead with an aquatic and arts centre at Hanging Rock still stands. It would be helpful to the community at large if the mayor could publicly explain what occurred with that. The explanation also needs to include what funds have to date been allocated to the Mackay Park Aquatic Centre proposal as it proceeds. Staff time needs to be included in the announcement when it’s made . A formal response from the Audit Committee will be sought to explain how council can reallocate substantial funds from one budget item to another without a formal report, at the least, to Council. It is understood that the Audit Committee members have already been in discussions to clarify the correct protocol knowing that these revelations and questions will be in the public domain. It is hoped that Councillor Brown recently elected on to the Audit Committee, will know the history of the transactions as he was a councillor at the time. Councillor Brown defeated ex-auditor Clr Pat McGinlay in the recent election for the vacancy on the Audit Committee. Joining Councillor Phil Constable it is hoped that Clr Brown will now pursue this issue and offer a full explanation.
concerned resident. Name and address supplied