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A Council meeting of half truths


Last Tuesday saw the Eurobodalla's Ordinary meeting. There were a few in the public gallery and several speakers for the Public Forum. The gallery and those watching via Live streaming listened to the debate regarding proposed Burial Vaults in Broulee. While it was revealed that the original landscaping that was required of the original DA had been compliant to the point where the development of the day was issued with a Compliance Certificate it was also noted that some of those plants may not have established or may have died over recent years and possibly the choice of plants could have been more robust. Clr Brown "There was no landscape at the back of the property adjacent to Mr Rivett's property.. When it was originally approved, right or wrong, there was no landscaping adjacent to his property in the approved plan /DA - therefore is no non compliance" - Director Usher responded "My understanding is you are correct" Following on from a presentation on behalf of the Broulee Memorial Gardens came two presentations by adjacent landowners concerned that the proposed structures would be visible from their properties and from Broulee Road. Whilst it was conceded that there may well have been plant loss since the original DA it was also revealed that there had been no requirement of landscaping along one of the boundaries under dispute to screen any visual access between the Memorial Gardens and that adjacent neighbour. Under pressure from the petitioners Council indicated it would look at claims of non-conformance by the Memorial Gardens in their previous Development Applications with the landscape designer stating that his client was more than happy to sit down with Council planning staff and work to find an outcome that met the Planning requirements that included satisfying Council's policies and guidelines. Councillor Pat McGinlay sought clarification to confirm that the Development Application for the memorial Vaults would be assessed by Council staff and not Councillors. The Annual report came up under the agenda as well. In his presentation Lei Parker of Tuross Head raised two issues around the Annual report, primarily focused at what Council didn't say rather than what it did. The first was the issue around Council failing to comply with Office of Local Government directives to reveal the General Managers $315,000 remuneration package in a timely fashion whilst also offering explanation of why the General Manager might have been awarded a 6.1% increase. Whilst it is understood that the Councillors delegated their authority to the Mayor to decide on the final package there remains questions around why 6.1% was given and why Council, contrary to regulation, defied the OLG directive and refused to divulge the General Managers package until the Annual report. There was no such statement in the Annual report nor explanation. It was also identified that there was a line item that showed what appeared to be a $2.2m overrun in the budget around Information technology. When asked about the costs during discussion councillors were advised that in regards to the $2.2m variance "The item in question is made up of two components. One being the capitalisation of the software and the other being the implementation costs, the capitalisation costs of the staff the involvement and otherwise. There is no overrun on budget". However is internally developed software accounted for under AASB 116 or AASB 138? The cost of an internally generated intangible asset comprises all directly attributable costs necessary to create, produce, and prepare the asset to be capable of operating in the manner intended by management during the development phase. The following are examples of development costs that can be capitalised: ;staff time (including project managers) directly related to developing or testing the asset in the development phase (NOTE: Council DID NOT develop the Technology One software) ;contractor and supplier expenses involved in the development and/or testing the asset;depreciation of software licences and computers specifically required to develop or test the asset ;the costs of data migration but only for test data used for system testing ; and initial pilot system to test feasibility prior to developing the final system to be capable of being used by the entity. Entities are required to have sufficiently robust costing systems to ensure these costs are reliably measured. The following are examples of costs that are considered to be operating expenses and should not be capitalised: staff time not directly related to the project for example attending training ;stakeholder meetings;training and developing user manuals ;post implementation reviews ;data migration outside of system testing;project governance committees ; and administration costs not directly related to development. An issue bought before the Council in regard to footpath trading in Batemans Bay saw some interesting revelations. Of concern was that Council had failed to ensure compliance of a local business who had apparently breached the Footpath Trading code. Also of concern was that a proposal that was coming before Council would allow continued breeches in regards to the provision of toilets, parking and pedestrian access associated with the intent to have 28 seats allowed adjacent to a local business for cafe purposes. When questioned by Councilor McGinlay, who had an expectation that pedestrians, and more specifically the disabled would not have the 2m wide of adequate room to navigate through the footpath area he was advised that there would be four pinch points that bought the gap down to 1.63m wide, assured that this was allowed within the code. Additionally when asked if more seating saw a requirement of the provision of more toilets and also of more parking allocations the councillors were assured that the Footpath Code stands independent of the Building code and therefore there was no need for consideration of toilets or additional carparking. It will be challenged that the advice offered to Councillors was open to interpretation as under Council's own Footpath Trading Code it states at 5.1.10 Health considerations Toilet facilities must be made available to patrons in accordance with the Building Code of Australia. Of interest was the debate around the adoption of the Captain Oldrey Master Plan where Councillor McGinlay with Councillor Mayne moved to have an amendment to the recommendations made that there would be no move at all by Council into the Bangalay Forest with a third field and to have any endorsement of such a possibility in the future, assumed by a future Council, implied. It was however overturned with a vote of 6 against 2 (Pollock Absent). "The intent that this council makes it clear that this council does not endorse the removal, or to consider that it was reasonable, to knock down a forest. " Clr McGinlay

Fortunately we have the video archive to show this. The Morning had heard an informed and impassioned presentation by Mr Owen Cartledge encouraging Council to rethink the Plan and their attitude to the adjacent forest. The final half truth of the day was the omission by Council staff that it had taken two years and five months for the General Manager to carry out the directive of Council as given in June 2016. In the report on Kyla Park there was no mention nor apology of this fact. Councillors were reminded that under the LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1993 - SECT 335 the Functions of a general manager state in part: (b) to implement, without undue delay, lawful decisions of the council, Councillors were to "It has taken two years and five months of nil action to a definitive Council directive to see this report come to Council recommending that there be no action negating the adopted motion of June 2016."

#Opinion

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