Wildlife rescue group rejects council green levy claim
Letter to the Editor
In response to the information provided by (Gympie Regional Council CEO) Shane Gray in relation to awarding of the Environment Levy grants, (15/1/2021) we note that there is no legislative requirement requiring the awarding of grants by Council to be decided by the elected Council.
There were clear criteria established for assessment of grant submissions. To be successful, a submission had to respond to a priority/objective or action in Council’s adopted Environment Strategy, which was adopted by the elected council (the vote was unanimous).
Therefore the issuing of grants in accordance with the Environment Strategy was in accordance with the direction and policy of the elected Council.
The grants were lawfully approved under the delegation of the director and signed off by the CEO. Expenditure of the Environment Levy (including the grants) was reported each year in Council’s Annual Report which was adopted by resolution of the Council.
With regard to Mr Gray’s statement that council is working to repair its budget and its due diligence “to ensure ratepayer-funded budgets are handled in a financially responsible manner”, we question how the CEO was able to appoint six “advisors” to council without these appointments being approved by the councillors.
Remuneration for these advisors would amount to significantly more expenditure than the ~$200,000 allocated to community organisations from the ratepayer funded environment levy grants.
The small grants provided to community organisations generate a significant in-kind contribution, multiplying the council‘s contribution considerably, and benefiting the environment in Gympie and the wider community. Could the same be said of the CEO’s appointed advisors?
Lesley Swift, Victory Heights, president ANARRA Wildlife Rescue
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