As we all know, the annual Clarence Valley budget is a complex document. Put simply, it describes how Councils income is divided into specific areas of services and works, sometimes called “votes”. The document is prepared by department managers and presented by the general manager to full Council for approval.
It has been explained to me recently by a Council source, that Councils administration has the legal authority to “borrow” funds from one “vote” and to use those “borrowed” funds in another “vote” without any public scrutiny at all and little explanation to Councillors. If this is correct, it would explain why so many items on the works program are “deferred”.
It would suggest that they are “deferred”, possibly with little chance of their ever being completed, simply because where there was once funding for specific works and services, there is now only an “IOU”. I am also informed that there is no specific requirement for any timeline for the restoration of those funds to their original “vote”.
My question to Council is this: will Clarence Valley Council be left with a very large number of IOU’s where there was once funding for works and services? I am aware that Council is audited on an annual basis, but would that audit question this re-allocation of funds? All funds are accounted for. They are expended on Council approved activities, and they seem to be within the legal authority of the administration. If this is happening, it may be legal, it may well be in the interests of the administration, but it would hardly be in the interests of the residents of the Clarence Valley.
I am calling now for an immediate and detailed internal audit, focusing initially on the funds set aside for the MacLachlan Park refurbishment and the Section 94 funds contributed by developers over the past decade.