From the Newsroom

CVC annual report: near enough is good enough

Geoff Helisma

When Cr Karen Toms tried to amend the council officer’s recommendation, to note the 2020/21 Annual Report at last week’s November 23 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, it proved too difficult, so she withdrew her amendment.

 

Cr Toms wanted to “note the 2020/21 Annual Report, pending confirmation of section 9: payment of expenses and provision of facilities to councillors in relation to their civic duties”.

Cr Toms said that some expenses attributed to her were incorrect; she also said that Cr Richie Williamson had a similar problem, and Cr Clancy revealed he, too, thought there were errors in his section.

During questions, Cr Toms said there were “some errors, nothing major” regarding “expenses attributed to me, but not paid to me … there’s nothing nasty, I just want to make sure it’s correct”.

Cr Baker asked if “these questions” regarding the alleged errors had been provided “to the author of report, to be dealt with”.

Cr Toms said the annual report was “only emailed to us last night” and that she had spoken with governance director Laura Black on Tuesday afternoon.

“This is her advice, to change it … there’s nothing untoward here, I just want to make sure the report is correct,” she said.

Cr Baker asked the mayor, “How does this council go about giving their confirmation, given this is the last ordinary meeting?

“If this is adopted, are we saying we have to have a special meeting to confirm this?”

Mayor Simmons: “That’s a good question; I was thinking the same thing.

“Maybe the general manager could answer it … what are the repercussions from [Cr Toms’ amendment]?”

General manager Ashley Lindsay: “I’m not aware of what the issues are, no one has spoken to me about what the quantum issue is.

“There seems to be a dollar value [attributed]; and funds [expended] have been allocated to a councillor [who] is questioning those funds…

“I would suggest that it’s not material to the broader report, [which] is a statutory report that we have to submit to the office of local government by November 30.”

Cr Baker began to ask another question, however, at this point Cr Toms withdrew her amendment.

Seconder of Cr Toms’ amendment, Cr Peter Ellem, said he was “happy if [Cr Toms] wants to withdraw it”.

Mover of the officer’s recommendation, Cr Arthur Lysaught, reserved his right of reply when debate commenced.

Meanwhile, Cr Toms ended up speaking in favour of receiving and noting the annual report.

“It’s a great annual report,” she said. “I’m sorry if I put some sort of a blot on it; but I’m a little bit pedantic and when I see something attributed to me … that I believe is incorrect, I just wanted to correct it.

“But I’m not prepared to cause any grief, it’s not important in scheme of things … so I’m not going to sweat the small stuff…”

Mayor Simmons said that “we did receive these [annual and audit] reports very late, and that’s all I want to say … hopefully things get better in the ensuing years”.

Cr Greg Clancy said he was “left with no option than to vote against this motion”.

He said he had (possibly) been “misrepresented in the amounts [for vehicle use and an online government conference] that I have spent; or at least I need to have them checked”.

He said he “was happy to be corrected”.

Cr Lysaught said he did not need his right of reply.

Cr Clancy asked if it was “too late to move an amendment?”

The mayor initially said he could, however, he corrected himself and said, “I’ve got confirmation from the general manager that we can’t.”

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