Gympie Council to remove fee-waiving powers from staff
Gympie Regional Council is expected to wind back bureaucratic powers given to council staff amid revelations it had delegated the ability to waive and reduce fees in areas like building and plumbing beyond its legislated ability to do so.
At Wednesday’s meeting, councillors will be asked to remove direct references to staff members other than the CEO from its fees and charges document on the grounds councillors never had the power to do so in the first place.
Since at least 2015, the council’s fees and charges indicated both the director of planning and development and the CEO had the power to give concessions or reduce fees in several sections related to building services.
By 2019 this had expanded to also include the manager of building and plumbing services in some sections.
The staff report says this is well beyond the council’s reach.
“The only staff member that the council can make a delegation to is the CEO,” it reads.
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The CEO would be able to further delegate those powers to officers if he wanted to, but specific staff positions would no longer be enshrined with such powers within the council’s fees and charges document.
The change has been requested as part of a wider overhaul of plumbing fees, which includes the reinstatement of a 100 per cent waiver of building and plumbing fees when a community organisation undertook work on council owned land.
The report says this was inadvertently left off the 2020-21 list and was only discovered when an applicant went to pay their fees.
Another proposed change is a $21 drop in the cost to lodge plumbing information by services other than the controversial OMA app.
The staff report says the current $51.50 fee “is much higher than the cost to save the file to the register”.
In contrast, lodging a report through the app only incurs a $6.70 charge.