THE City of Greater Bendigo will be independently reviewed in a bid to find savings and improve efficiency.
Councillors voted 5 – 4 in favour of a review last night, despite some saying it could cost double the $250,000 estimate, putting other projects and services on hold.
Cr Peter Cox, a keen supporter of the audit, said councillors had a “huge responsibility” to ensure public money was spent efficiently.
“The most absolutely compelling need for this review is that over the next 10 years this council will spend $2.1 billion,” he said.
“Council needs to engage the widest number of people in our community. It needs to identify as many issues of concern as possible.”
Cr Cox said the council spent $16 million on waste management each year and $4m on consultants and the parks budget was overspent by $1m two years running.
He said there were a number of financial black holes at the council.
But Cr Rod Campbell said there were already enough checks and balances and government regulations to stop waste and that he wasn’t sure there was justification to spend the money.
“It’s a waste of money – $250,000 might be a starting point but that depends on the terms of reference ... that could rocket up,” he said.
“We’re told not to go out and waste money on consultants, but that’s exactly what we’re proposing.” Cr James Williams said a review would be a positive step to move the city forward and set future benchmarks.
But Cr Barry Lyons said it could cost up to $500,000.
“I sincerely believe it could be a very expensive fishing expedition,” he said.
“I believe we have enough checks and balances.”
Cr Elise Chapman said the review was an election pledge, but Cr Mark Weragoda said the council was already in a strong financial position.
Cr Rod Fyffe also said it was unnecessary. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said.
The previous council voted against an independent review in January.