Gulaptis,Tiley face off

By TOBY WALKER

THE CLARENCE Valley Council will ask the State Government for funding assistance in a bid to improve a $1.8million budget deficit.

Council hopes to boost its cash flow by asking for a share of the savings the former Carr Government claimed would be realised through council amalgamations.

The request to rectify the deficit identified in the third quarter review of council's management plan divided councillors during yesterday's ordinary meeting in Maclean.

The issue was raised by Councillor Chris Gulaptis who expressed his concern that a number of targets set in the management plan were incomplete or had been deferred.

Referring to the plan as the council's 'report card', Cr Gulaptis felt a lack of resources had contributed to the situation.

He blamed costs associated with the amalgamations for leaving council almost $2million in the red and believed it was time to 'simply say it like it is' and ask for assistance.

With support from most of his fellow councillors, Cr Gulaptis stated his case.

"What I'm saying to the councillors and to the gallery Mr Mayor is that amalgamation has cost us money and we can't ignore that fact," he said.

But Mayor Ian Tiley felt it was too early to speculate on the costs associated with amalgamation until a full year review had been completed.

He conceded the targets set in the management plan in May 2004, prior to council elections, may have been optimistic but believed council needed to build a solid case for needing the funding before approaching the State Government.

"THE simple fact is we do have sound cash reserves and to run to the minister now is a sign of weakness," he told the meeting.

"It's throwing your hands in the air.

"I believe it's a political stunt and I don't support it for one second."

But when it came to a vote, councillors voted six to two in favour of Cr Gulaptis' recommendation to seek the funding.

Cr Terry Flanagan was not present.

Cr Gulaptis would not be drawn on what Cr Tiley may have meant by his 'political stunt' comment but disagreed that an approach to the minister would be premature.

"It can't be premature when we've got a $1.8million deficit," he said.

"I don't see it as party politics, I see it as common sense. When things don't add up, I see it as a priority to do something about it.

"That is what we're elected to do."



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