Public has a right to hear

Cr Hitt, whose position on the Belmont Council expires at the upcoming local government elections in October, questioned at last week’s meeting how councillors were held to account to carry out their duties, such as reading the agenda and debating policy.

On July 23, council will vote on recommendations to increase the mayor and councillors’ allowances, which would cost ratepayers an additional $148,035.

If the recommendations are passed, Mayor Phil Marks’ attendance fee would increase from $14,000 to $29,500, while councillors’ fees would increase from $7000 each to $22,000.

‘My concerns are as an individual, as far as I can see there is not a lot of accountability for councillors,’ Cr Hitt said.

‘The payments recommended by the State Government come out of council rates, so all people have the right to know their money is actually spent representing the ratepayers.

‘It’s a statewide issue and is not confined to the City of Belmont.’

Belmont chief Stuart Cole said council previously considered recording meetings, but decided they were not necessary because meeting minutes were prepared in accordance with Department of Local Government requirements.

‘Councillors across the State have a responsibility to carry out their duties in accordance with legislation,’ Mr Cole said.

‘As councillors are democratically elected by eligible residents of the community, the ultimate accountability is at election time.’

Cr Hitt said Belmont’s public gallery was often empty and recording meetings could increase resident participation in local government.