BASSENDEAN Councillor Gerry Pule labelled council’s heated debate while passing the 2017-18 draft budget as “bad governance” at last night’s special meeting.
Main features of the budget include rates increasing by 2.5 per cent, $170,000 towards steam weed treatment, $200,000 for investigations into contaminated sites, $695,000 towards construction of a new Men’s Shed on Scadden Street and $800,000 for playground projects at Sandy Beach Reserve and Mary Crescent Reserve.
Drainage upgrades at Anzac Terrace and Success Hill will cost council $250,000 and $210,000 respectively.
With four councillors present due to the absence of Councillors Bob Brown and Renee McLennan, the budget had to be passed with an absolute majority.
Town corporate services director Mike Costarella said council had to re-levy the rates increase and pass the budget before the printers’ and local government department’s deadlines of 3pm today.
However, Crs Paul Bridges and Pule, Mayor John Gangell and deputy mayor Mike Lewis failed to agree on Cr Bridges’ proposed amendment to change the wording of Street Tree Master Plan review to an urban forest management plan.
Cr Bridges said he forwarded his amendments to councillors and senior staff about 7.20pm on July 9.
“There has been no discussion on the Street Tree Master Plan review…I don’t really think you need $60,000 to review the street tree plan because an urban management plan would review the street trees,” he said.
Cr Gangell said he was not against the management plan but wanted to see the Street Tree Master Plan being reviewed after three years of planning.
“Closing the meeting is an immature way of doing things…if you do that you’ll destroy the Town and hold it to ransom,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that not all councillors are present to have a robust debate.”
Cr Pule suggested Cr Bridges move a notice of motion at the next council meeting to form an Urban Forest Management Plan rather than voting against the budget.
Cr Lewis said $170,000 for steam weed treatment should be dropped to $40,000 because he was not prepared to pass on a “huge cost” to the incoming council post elections in October.
Cr Pule said Cr Lewis should reconsider his position on weed treatment, as many residents would be very unhappy.
Cr Pule moved to suspend standing orders so councillors could discuss further.
Standing orders were resumed at 6.45pm.
Council ultimately passed the budget 4-0.