Budget meeting rescheduled

City of Greater Bendigo councillors will discuss the Council Budget at an ordinary meeting, amid recent controversy surrounding special meetings.  

Councillors Peter Cox, Helen Leach and Elise Chapman refused to attend a special meeting about the draft Council Plan last week as a matter of conscience. 

Cr Cox said a series of special meetings to release the plan and Budget should not proceed because they "undermined democracy" and devalued the importance of the documents. 

The special meeting for the Budget was originally planned for May 21, to fast-track approval, but the council has rescheduled it for the ordinary council meeting agenda on May 28.

Chief executive Craig Niemann said while the decision followed earlier controversy, this was not the reason for the change of date. 

He said two councillors could not attend the meeting on May 21, so council had decided to reschedule it so they could attend. 

However one councillor will still be absent at the ordinary meeting. 

Mr Niemann said the council wanted to make sure as many councillors as possible would be present at budget discussions.

"We weren't sure about the possibilities of (councillors protesting again and not attending the special meeting about the Budget)," he said. 

"But we wanted some certainty that councillors would attend. 

"This change of date is not something we do without consideration and consultation."'

Cr Cox said he was pleased Budget discussion would occur at an ordinary meeting. 

"I don't think it was because of anything I have said but this decision is the correct policy," he said. 

"Hopefully now we will only have special meetings in matters of real urgency.

"There needs to be a common sense approach to these things and there was no good reason to conduct important business in special meetings. 

"They should be part of the normal agenda and I'm glad this is now the case."

Cr Leach agreed the ordinary meeting was more appropriate for Budget discussion. 

The final two meetings relating to the Budget will take place in ordinary meetings; the further two meetings about the Council Plan will take place in special meetings. 

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