Councillor Jason Kingsley said he “had no problems with Cr Toms’ intentions”.
Referring to an “overall efficiency report” that general manager Ashley Lindsay said would be forthcoming in November or December this year, Cr Kingsley said: “I believe all of these issues are already on the general manager’s radar and … I have every confidence in the general manager.
“I will hold him to account.”
Councillor Kingsley, however, said he supported looking at how Uniqco Review of Light and Heavy Plant Fleet had panned out, because he was “not happy regarding the heavy fleet when adopted back then”.
Councillor Andrew Baker said he would vote for the motion because “I believe it is the right thing for the governing body to receive, from time to time, reports on things that interest them”.
However, Cr Baker qualified his support: “I’ve heard all of what Cr Toms said and it made me wonder why we need a report?
“The general manager implements our resolutions, so I can be completely open minded, so when they come to me I’ll have nothing to say, whether achieved or not.”
Councillor Baker recalled his scepticism from years past.
“I said back then, that you’ll never make a million savings a year – our job is to receive reports and balance up with what has been achieved,” he said.
“Three years ago we … bunged rates up … that was an ambition … to go out and do those things.
“I feel 90 per cent happy … I’m not going to shoot the messenger if we miss by 10 or five per cent.”
Councillor Arthur Lysaught said “the reason we haven’t reached our efficiency savings [target] is incredibly clear … bushfires and Covid”.
“We just heard the general manager say the reports are on their way … we just keep looking for more and more savings … we are policy makers … the operational [side of council] must be left in the hands of the experts,” he said.
“As councillors, we get too far involved in issues that should be left to our senior staff.”
Councillor Richie Williamson said, “last year our final [budget] position improved, not in leaps and bounds, but an improvement is an improvement”.
“Councillor Lysaught is absolutely correct with what he said … I commend the general manager,” he said.
However, while Cr Williamson said that the requested reports “appear to be in hand” he said he was happy to “seek a balanced view … [of] what we’ve done, what we’re doing”.
Councillor Greg Clancy said the “governing body should give direction from time to time” and that he was “looking forward to the results”.
“It’s our job to keep up with what we are doing, [while] not delving too far into the operational part of council,” he said.
Councillor Peter Ellem said that due to the “six month delay in reporting” he was “happy to support a motion that brings acute focus” on the issue.
He said it “should be viewed as looking at all available options”.
Mayor Jim Simmons said he was “happy to support Cr Toms and other councillors who are looking at reports the general manager presents to us”.
“I hope it … can come up with some good savings,” he said, “I am confident of the future for this council.”