Move to limit may­ors’ power in bud­get mak­ing

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - Alexia Austin Alexia.Austin@west­ern­

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.

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