Full disclosure: February’s council meeting
THE upcoming election would have been on councillors’ minds as the first meeting under caretaker mode was held.
The February meeting began at 10.02am on Tuesday with 16 people in the public gallery.
To keep track of previous decisions made by Bundaberg’s councillors, we have also published details on:
This month’s ordinary council meeting included the formal name change of a road, confusion over the spelling of ‘louvre’, and an apology over a thumbs-up emoji.
MAYOR Jack Dempsey presented a milestone award to Division 3 councillor Wayne Honor, on behalf of the Local Government Association of Queensland.
Cr Honor had been recognised for working 16 years in local government.
Cr Dempsey noted that the work of local councillors was an important part of democracy and a “vital link” in government representation.
But Cr Honor reminded the chamber that he was interested in continuing to represent the community
“I’d just like to thank the council for the wonderful working relationship that we’ve had over the years,” Cr Honor said.
“It’s been a wonderful privilege to be able to serve the community, to be able to give back to people that have given so much to our family, our community, and I haven’t lost the enthusiasm for local government.”
THE council’s chaplain, pastor Errol Buckle, has always received a mention in these long-read reports for the spiritual guidance he gives to elected representatives.
“We are deeply moved by family tragedies, especially of that of domestic violence which in no way expresses real love,” he said in a prayer during the council meeting.
“We’re also concerned about those who are struggling with the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) virus and the impact it has on others as well.
“While we still live in the best times in history, let’s not take it for granted.”
Perceived conflicts of interest
Cr Honor said he could have a perceived conflict of interest over the two confidential items.
The first involved a contract over bus shelter roof upgrades.
“My son is a professional officer here at council and has written a report in relation to this matter before council here today,” he said.
Councillors decided he had no conflict of interest.
But he would step out of the room for the other confidential matter, which regarded the extension for a project to be eligible for the council’s Open for Development Infrastructure Agreement, which was an incentive to attract developments.
Cr Honor said his own company, Coachtrail Investment Pty, currently had a similar type of agreement with the council which was still unresolved.
Cr Judy Peters said she would be leaving the room over a grant application for this year’s Agrotrend event.
“I’m a member of an organisation that’s running an independent event in that two days of Agrotrend,” she said.
“I will remove myself from the room.”
Cr Dempsey checked to see if other councillors would make declarations.
Cr Blackburn said; “Mr Mayor, I don’t have a perceived conflict but I did speak to the CEO (Stephen Johnston) before the meeting and I wish to make a statement after we voted on accepting the minutes.”
“Yeah, hold on, sorry Cr Blackburn,” Cr Dempsey interjected, then explained that they first needed to officially complete the conflicts of interest section, and then would be happy to hear the statement.
Cr Blackburn’s apology
There were no more declared conflicts, but with the process formally completed Cr Blackburn spoke.
Cr Blackburn made a formal apology for liking a Facebook comment which could have been offensive to other candidates.
“On the 19th of November, 2019, I announced on my personal Facebook page that I would be running for Mayor of the Bundaberg Regional Council at the local government election in March this year,” she said.
“On the 20th of November a person I do not wish to name responded to my post by providing a comment which may have been interpreted as offensive.
“I responded to the comment by selecting the like thumbs-up emoji and posted thanks.”
She said she interpreted the comment as support for her candidacy, and so responded with the emoji, but this was the topic of complaint to the Office of the Independent Assessor.
“I apologise if my actions have been interpreted as derogatory,” she said.
Cr Dempsey said, “thank you Cr Blackburn, I note your apology in relation to the OIA investigation.”
Cr Dempsey recognised a petition received from patrons of the Anzac Park swimming pool, which had been compiled due to concern that the council would decommission the pool later this year, without replacing it.
Executive members in the council denies this is the case.
The petition was noted by Cr Dempsey and by Jason Bartels, but no further details were mentioned.
The council voted to change the name of a section of Tolls Rd, in Moorland, to Vecellios Rd.
Cr Ross Sommerfeld said there was potential confusion for emergency services because Tolls Rd was divided into two stretches, with a substantial gap between them.
He said the public generally believed the northern section was already named Vecellios Rd, which joined it. There was no signage to say otherwise.
The council voted to donate $10,000, as well as the GST, to the Bundaberg Disability Resource Centre which includes the toy library run by the YMCA.
Cr Dempsey said the council had visited the site and that the organisation has worked extremely well in the community.
It had been a great support for local disabilities at that site but also through public libraries across the Bundaberg area.
“I congratulate them for their time and effort into members of the community and wish them all the best,” he said.
The council also agreed to fund $5500, which includes GST, to the Bundaberg Field Day Society for its two-day Agrotrend event on May 8-9.
Cr John Learmonth moved that the council agree to waive hire feeds to the Bundaberg Canine Club, which aimed to use the recreational precinct for its Easter Dog Show.
The hire fees would have been worth more than $3000.
Cr Learmonth said it would be a similar arrangement to last year’s event, in which the club members would have to collect camping fees and pass them onto the council.
Last year the camping fee reached almost $10,000.
Members of the public left the room for the confidential section of the council meeting.
The meeting was closed for three minutes before councillors then voted to make an arrangement with G.James Extrusion Co to replace roof and louvre screens at various bus shelters.
There was discussion among councillors as Cr Sommerfeld questioned the spelling of ‘louvre’ in its agenda, which in American English is spelled “louver”.
“I still support the vote,” he clarified.
Cr Dempsey said “I’m glad you brought that up” and that punctuation was important.
Once the word was changed with the motion then repeated to councillors, Cr Dempsey asked “are you happy with that?”
“Yes,” Cr Sommerfeld said.
The council then agreed to extend the completion date for an Edenbrook Estate development to be eligible for the Open for Development Infrastructure Agreement.
It would be extended to June 28, 2024.
The council also agreed to offset the costs of the work identified in a management plan for Edenbrook Drain against infrastructure costs of the developments’ future stages.
The council meeting then ended 36 minutes after it began, and Cr Dempsey noted that the next meeting will be on March 24.