Council keeps chief’s spend limit

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
City of Bunbury chief executive Mal Osborne (right).
Camera IconCity of Bunbury chief executive Mal Osborne (right). Credit: South Western Times

Bunbury city councillors have voted down a request to double the chief executive’s spend limit to half-a-million-dollars with some elected members concerned “the more you give up, the less you have to govern”.

The council unanimously voted to keep chief executive Mal Osborne’s approval limit to $250,000 after city staff requested it be bumped up to “expedite” potential projects.

The request was among a number of minor changes in a review of the council’s purchasing policy.

During the council’s meeting this week, councillors Michelle Steck and Betty McCleary were vocal in their support to keep control of ratepayers’ money.

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“As an elected member my responsibility is to maintain that we are good governance and I’ll also expect that we as councillors need to keep our expenditure down,” Cr Steck said.

“I’m not suggesting for one moment that if we increase this amount there wouldn’t be all the balances and checks, we have a really good quality staff.

“I’m just saying that the more you give up, the less you have to govern over.”

Cr McCleary said accountability to stakeholders was “what we’re all about”.

“I don’t wish to trade off my accountability to the stakeholders for a quicker assessment and expenditure ... I find that trade-off unacceptable,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Jaysen Miguel told the South Western Times that giving Mr Osborne more authority could streamline the process, but projects over $250,000 were rare.

“Talking to the CEO, he wasn’t overly concerned about it ... If you’re buying something like a rubbish truck, those sort of things aren’t particularly urgent,” he said.

“It was indicated from council, they were much more comfortable having those kind of amounts coming back to council just to I guess run their eye over it.

“It just basically gives the council the assurance with those bigger items that come up, we do have the final say and make sure we’re aware of those things that are going on.”

Another change to the policy will see Mr Osborne reporting weekly to the council if there is a payment for services or work to a councillor or staff members’ business.

It comes after questions were raised last week following an $11,000 payment to Cr James Hayward’s business, Firey Productions, for promotional work.

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