COUNCIL VOTES ON CHANGE TO DUTIES
Move to limit mayors’ power in budget making
THE Maranoa Regional Council passed a motion on Wednesday that could change the mayoral role in local governments.
In a 7–2 vote, councillors passed a motion to endorse a move to change sections of the 2009 Local Government Act, specifically those relating to the budget responsibilities of the mayor.
This comes after changes to the Act were adopted by the Newman government in 2012, giving mayors a greater role in budget proceedings.
Previously, mayors were responsible for proposing the adoption of the council budget but now the Act stipulates budget preparation be performed solely by the mayor.
The issues caused by this change were outlined in the motion, which included community perception of mayors having a greater influence, unequal access to information, insufficient time between presentation and adoption and an imbalance of authority over the budget .
Maranoa Deputy Mayor Jan Chambers said in passing this motion, the council was seeking a more collaborative approach to the budget release.
“We believe the budget should be a team process and that was emphasised very clearly during the meeting,” Cr Chambers said.
“Everyone has to vote on the budget so I believe everyone needs an input into the proceedings.”
“The mayor’s budget is only presented to us two weeks before and, to have projects put in there that haven’t gone through the process, more time is required for planning.”
Mayor Tyson Golder opposed the motion, saying the public expected the mayor to have a level of influence in proceedings.
“This motion shows to me a total lack of understanding of what the general public expect from a mayor and the position of mayor which is separately elected,” he said.
“I think the current model works well, there are balances and checks, even though the mayor composes the budget, it doesn’t mean it will be voted through and I caution anyone thinking that an elected representative preparing the budget as mayor is a waste of time.
“My view is that the general public expects the mayor to have a level of influence. I also believe two weeks is a long time when there are minor changes to a budget that people have brought forward.
“I think these changes have been made in line with community expectations and that this motion shows an indifference to those expectations.”
The motion was passed in a 7–2 vote, with Cr Golder and Cr Geoff McMullen opposing the motion.
The council will now endorse the Local Government Association of Queensland lobby to change the Act which, if successful, will see responsibility for the budget shared evenly between council members.