One of the most important motions on the Armidale Regional Council's agenda for this month's ordinary meeting on Wednesday afternoon is Item 8.5. If adopted, it would reduce the Chief Executive Officer's discretionary delegation down, from half-a-million dollars to $100,000.
It would effectively remove the CEO's delegated authority to quickly pay any council bill of more than $100,000, and there is the possibility it could see local businesses waiting up to two months for payment for goods and/or services provided.
Under the item, management lists 25 projects that would be affected, including some everyday council functions such as rubbish removal, sewerage, roadworks and so on, if the functions of council were slowed.
Cr Ian Tiley could not be contacted for comment, however he obviously recognised the necessity for the CEO's increased delegation when, as administrator, he lifted it to its current level in January 2017. His adopted recommendation read:
- a) Council note the report by the Chief Financial Officer on the Chief Executive Officer's Delegation of Authority for the Acceptance of Tenders.
- b) Council include delegation to the Chief Executive Officer authority to accept Council tenders with a contract value of up to $500,000 where all other tender requirements of the Local Government Act 1993 and the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 are met.
- c) Executive Leadership to consider all tenders and minute Chief Executive Officer determination.
- d) All tenders approved under delegation are reported to open Council quarterly.
The Notice of Motion to reduce the delegation was signed by Crs Margaret O'Connor and Debra O'Brien.
Cr O'Brien said there was a little bit of disagreement about the motion.
"We're just wanting to keep things really transparent at the moment," she said.
"We might lift that level, but some of those decisions; we need to make them.
"None of those projects are under threat at all. None of them, they're all very safe. You can ring up the project managers - oh no, you can't - but none of those projects are under threat."
Cr Peter Bailey said he would not be voting for the motion.
"I just don't agree with a reduction in the CEO's delegation," he said.
Mayor Simon Murray said if the motion was adopted it would be a very retrograde step.
"Having looked at all the projects now that go through, and even the day-to-day workings where the costs are often over $100,000, if this motion were to go through, would need to go to council for approval," he said.
"Whether it be looking at sewerage or looking at a contract payment for gravel, all of that would have to go back to council.
"If someone submitted their invoice after the last council meeting in December, they would not be considered until the meeting in February - two months later."
He said he said the motion had the potential to be an irresponsible, retrograded step if adopted.