At the meeting held at Ocean Shores Country Club organised by OSCA to discuss the flooding issue in the North of Byron Shire, it was revealed that the 2021 budget for stormwater was $350,000 but only $94,000 had been spent. Mayor Lyon has given a commitment to finding out what has happened here.
This should be of concern to all the elected Council – why did not the Director of Infrastructure pick up on this non-expenditure or the General Manager?
This should raise some very serious questions as to how money is being spent by Council departments and what checks are in place?
The problem exists that directors are able to say an expenditure comes out of an operational budget, and therefore when asked no explanation needs to be given.
This was evident after the 2005 augmentation of the West Byron Waste Water Treatment Plant (WBWWTP) when substantial changes were made to the constructed wetlands. When the then Director of Water & Recycling (W&R) was reportedly asked by two councillors what the changes to the constructed wetlands cost, they were told that the money came out of the operational budget so they did not need to know. The question is: who actually knows the amount that was spent? The original tender for the augmentation of WBWWTP was twenty-two million dollars but after various claims by the John Holland Group the final figure was $29 million dollars, so the cost of the changes to the constructed wetlands became a significant budget issue but the Director of W&R was able to not disclose it.
The inflow infiltration investigation has gone to over one million dollars per year, when originally only $500,000 was put by W&R to the Water Waste & Sewer Advisory Committee (WW&SAC) for their recommendation to the elected Council who endorsed the committee’s recommendation. This still has over a year to run, so is that million dollars plus on top of the $500,000? Did the committee or the elected Council endorse this? What improvements to the infrastructure and its performance have been shown to justify this expenditure?