How sad it is that the Tweed has only two councillors who are concerned about costs incurred by ratepayers, councillor expenses and local jobs.
If anyone noticed several months ago it was Crs Carolyn Byrne, Warren Polglase and Phil Youngblutt who vacated the building when mayor Katie Milne announced it was time some expenses claims were looked into because she was not prepared to simply ‘rubber stamp’ claims for the maximum amounts without original receipts.
After an independent review of the councillor expenses policy, a new draft policy was considered at Thursday’s council meeting.
Cr Barry Longland submitted a long list of amendments by email after lunch on the same day as the meeting. This meant that most councillors had not seen them until council staff ran off copies during the meeting.
Was this coincidental or planned?
Many of the expenses limits were queried by community members in the public gallery. As an example, $250 a month was allowed for phone and internet provision. This seems to be excessive, with most of us agreeing that a suitable ‘bundled’ account can be found for much less than $250 a month.
Aside from the questionable costs it also became obvious that councillor Barry Longland was seeking to remove the role of the mayor in approving expenses claims, instead giving the responsibility to bureaucrats. One has to ask, why?
The draft policy will now be open for public comment for a period of time. Every ratepayer should have a look and tell the council what they think. I would like to thank Crs Milne and Gary Bagnall for being the only two who stood up for ratepayers on the night.
It has always been the ‘three amigos’ who have pushed unsustainable development in the Tweed, always crying out that development creates jobs, jobs, jobs.
Anyone who has driven or walked past one of the big development sites will have noticed that you rarely, if ever, see a NSW number plate.
It is at the smaller developments that you are more likely to see locals employed. Yet on Thursday night, council officers recommended removing a scheme where developers could put off paying council contributions until the development was complete. But it was only to be removed for smaller developers!
This also impacts on a wide range of smaller local businesses that need council DA approval for site alterations or change of use.
Mayor Milne queried this and sought a one-month delay to look at ways the council could support smaller developers and businesses. Crs Byrne, Youngblutt and Polglase voted against her and consequently against local businesses and local jobs.
Julie McNamara, Murwillumbah