Council Meeting on Monday on 29 JanuaryAfter more than three hours of debating, councillors were unable to agree on a rate rise proposal and the very large crowd that had turned up for the meeting were told they would have to return on Tuesday evening for a second round of discussions.With a deadline looming for a submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal for any rate rises above the rate pegging limits over the next three years (4.5%, 3% and 3%) Council was running out of time.A proposal for a 44% rate rise over three years supported by three Greens councillors was countered by a demand from three other councillors that Council must demonstrate it could cut costs before any increases above the rate peg limit of 11% over three years could be supported.A more moderate increase of 21% over three years that was proposed by Clrs John Wells and Patricia White, was linked to fifteen recommendations aimed at achieving substantial costs savings of $5 million a year and improvements in asset management and project controls.Their proposal, which included a freeze on the hiring of new staff and the pausing of new projects so resources could be focused on asset renewal and rehabilitation, was supported by four other councillors.However, the four Greens councillors joined with the three advocating the rate peg limits to defeat the moderate proposal by seven votes to six, resulting in the need for an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday in an effort to break the impasse.

Council Meeting on Tuesday 30 JanuaryIn an extraordinary turnaround, the Greens councillors agreed to drop the Special Rate Variation request and to support the rate pegging limits over the next three years, together with implementation of the recommendations in the independent AEC report.Councillors White and Wells indicated that this proposal could be supported if all of the recommendations in their proposal were also given the same consideration for implementation. Clr Wells emphasised that the AEC report was deficient in its failure to address the critical substantial growth in staff numbers and personnel costs over recent years.Several councillors voiced their support for the compromise proposal and a message of thanks was agreed for the community’s input and the special contribution from the group of local financial professionals.The proposal was passed by twelve votes to one.