Council watchdog clears Mayor of anonymous complaint
GYMPIE Mayor Glen Hartwig has come under fire for comments about the state of the council’s finances which were later found to be correct.
The latest round of rulings from the State Government’s council watchdog, the Office of the Independent Assessor, revealed Mr Hartwig had been accused of misleading the public about how the council used money from its environmental levy.
In his July 29 Mayor’s Message No Secret Around the State of our Finances Mr Hartwig said the council’s financial flexibility with its reserves was limited.
“Constrained cash cannot be used for day-to-day operations, such as paying staff, because this money is allocated to government funded projects, and other areas such as the environmental levy which must be put back into environmental projects,” Mr Hartwig said.
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The complaint lodged with the OIA claimed “unconstrained (sic) funds such as the environment levy cannot be used for operational maters such as paying staff and insinuates that council is following this process”.
“Environment team staff are being paid directly out of the environment levy, as are other operational expenses such as vehicle.”
The OIA dismissed the complaint and found Mr Hartwig’s claim “correct when interpreted in context with council policies relating to the use of the environment levy”.
“The statement was correct that funds constrained by the State Government may not be
able to be used for operational and staffing costs,” it ruled.
“However, the statement that ‘the environmental levy which must be put back into environmental projects’ did not specify that those funds would not be used for operational and staffing costs for those projects. i.e. the funding was constrained to the ‘project’.”
The OIA ruled Mr Hartwig’s claim was not deliberately misleading, but “could have been better clarified”.