Controversial pay rise costs more than anticipated
AN ACCOUNTING error has led to council staff underestimating the cost of a councillor pay rise.
The controversial decision to raise the rate of remuneration for councillors and the Mayor was passed at the Clarence Valley Council's July meeting and was expected to cost $88,012.
However, in the monthly financial report tabled at the Corporate Governance and Works committee meeting yesterday, the figure had grown to $97,588 - with no explanation.
While acknowledging staff had already provided an answer as to why there was a difference, councillor Greg Clancy asked that it be explained again for the public record.
Director of corporate and governance Laura Black said the reason for the discrepancy was because the original calculation for the adopted budget was not correct.
"We didn't pick that up until such time as we did the re-calculation when council last month adopted the option for the increase," she said.
"The report itself should detail that and doesn't do that."
Mr Clancy then wanted clarification on the whether the mistake would have some bearing on the motion carried at the previous meeting, which specified the $88,012 to be reflected in the monthly financial report.
"I can't understand how we can have two separate figures. When we have a motion that says $88,012 and the table here is $97,588," he said.
Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said council were in fact correcting the record with the monthly report, but agreed with Ms Black in that it should have contained an explanation.
Ms Black added that councillors had not yet adopted the change to the budget, something which would occur at the quarterly budget review.
"That may be so but it is still important that the numbers are correct," Cr Karen Toms quickly shot back, before moving on to the issue of insurance, which had also been the subject of a change.
Ms Toms said the increase of $124,658 to Council's insurance budget seemed "very high" and asked whether it was usual.
"Well it hasn't been recently but the premium charges have been increased," Mr Lindsay replied. "It is a difficult insurance market at the moment."