Funding furore is a mix-up: Council
REPORTS that money generated for aged and community care would be switched to road maintenance have jumped the gun says Clarence Valley Council acting general manager Des Schroder.
Mr Schroder said the confusion could partly have stemmed from a failure of the council's internet livestream for the final section of the meeting, including this item.
In addition the entire recording of the meeting failed and the council was unable to provide a podcast of the meeting.
Mayor Jim Simmons had brought a notice of motion to the meeting that asked for the council to look at "untied” funds in council accounts which could be diverted to maintenance of the council's unsealed roads.
The largest of these was $3.228million in the Clarence Care + Support fund, which Cr Simmons said could come into the road maintenance budget.
But Mr Schroder said the Mayor "retracted” this figure during the debate agreeing on a smaller amount.
Complicating this was a resolution from a confidential item involving CCS at the August meeting that revealed council had voted against merging the service with an outside not-for-profit entity.
Instead it voted to transform the service from a council entity to an outside-council not for profit organisation by July next year.
Mr Schroder said the council was prepared to spend $1.9million on the merger, but said this figure would not cover CCS transformation.
"I think this was the amount the Mayor eventually decided he would work with at the meeting,” he said.
Mr Schroder said even this amount was uncertain.
"From the resolution, the council has voted to go away and look at all its untied funds in different accounts and come back with a report to the November meeting,” he said.
"But what the CCS component of this might be is still uncertain.”
He said the council would have to include its financial plan for setting up the new organisation in a submission to the Minister, whose permission was required for CCS to set up outside the council.
Mr Schroder said the one thing certain about the $3.228million figure was that it was raised through CCS operations and was not tied to any government grants.
But CCS manager Kerry Little said as far as she was concerned the funding the Mayor had his eyes on was Commonwealth money earmarked for aged and community care services.
"Under agreements with the Commonwealth this money has been allocated to be used in the community sector,” Ms Little said.
She said CCS staff had been concerned to read in the media the council considered this money to be "untied” and would investigate its availability for road maintenance.
"Staff are always concerned about our customers and concerned about the level of service we give to the community,” Ms Little said.
She said it was up to the council, which in August voted against a merger of CCS with an outside organisation, to say why it wanted to spend CCS-linked funds outside the sector.
"Council voted against the merger and for setting us up as a not-for-profit entity,” she said.
"In terms of how that's going to be set up, that's something for the council to comment on.”