Councillors, staff at loggerheads

“We’re entering into the budget round of talks in the next few weeks, and apart from $8500 for updating recordkeeping, being a statutory requirement, I don’t see any of the others having a sense of urgency,” Cr Ian Flack said.

After a review of the council’s budget until December 31, 2015, council staff requested $18,000 for the canoe club’s repairs, $18,000 for a community satisfaction survey in 2016, $8500 for a consultant to update recordkeeping, $25,000 for proposed expansion of the Mosman Park Men’s Shed and moving $80,000 from the Legal Contingency Reserve for future payment of lawyers.

Cr Flack said the council would “indulge” by funding the community satisfaction survey and moving the $80,000 could “exhaust” the legal reserve.

Cr Andrew Maurice said the survey allowed the council to get the opinions of all residents, instead of a vocal minority at council meetings.

Cr Zenda Johnson said her “gut feeling” was the requests for spending should be in 2016-17 budget talks, the $25,000 for the Men’s Shed was an “overspend”, despite claims the council was in surplus, and there had been no report about the canoe club repairs.

“I refer to the agenda papers and on page 70 it says, ‘With regards to the Swan Canoe Club, etc’, and I regard that as a report,” chief executive Kevin Poynton said.

Mr Poynton said he would take on notice a question about whether the legal fund would be exhausted and provisional allocation for the Men’s Shed’s expansion would be debated again by councillors after its consideration in 2016-17 budget talks.

Mayor Ron Norris said the $80,000 for legal fees may be needed if rejected building applications, including 28 Saunders Street and 159 Wellington Street, were contested at the State Administrative Tribunal.

Mr Norris said the appointment of a new chief executive aimed to improve the relationship between councillors and the administration, after 47 applicants were shortlisted to five to be interviewed this week.