By KIERAN FINNANE
Nothing if not persistent, Councillor Eli Melky says he will take his concerns over an alleged council budget irregularity to the Minister.
Right: Cr Eli Melky, photo from our archive.
The amount involved is $531,000 allocated in the 2017-18 Municipal Plan as part payment of the Civic Centre loan.
As we know, the full loan was subsequently paid off in full, largely thanks to Cr Melky’s efforts.
In a long presentation to council last night Cr Melky argued that the current Municipal Plan should have been adjusted for this amount.
Council’s Director of Finance Dinesh Pillay explained that as the loan had not been paid off until after June 30 this could not be done. However, the mid-year review of the plan reflects the current position.
Council has redirected the amount allocated for the loan repayment to capital works along Ilparpa Road.
Cr Melky argues that the fact of its inclusion in the Municipal Plan means that as a matter of arithmetic it will continue to be reflected in budgets going forward, costing ratepayers millions over the coming decade.
His argument eluded his fellow councillors and was rejected by Mr Pillay, who explained that the budgeting process works the other way round: it starts with an assessment of the revenue required to do all of what council wants and has to do; this determines how much needs to be raised, principally by rates. The process does not start with a revenue amount and then distribute it.
Cr Melky said he has taken expert advice and is convinced that he is right. He has proved right before – on the savings represented by paying off the Civic Centre loan, significantly more than Mr Pillay had initially calculated. So watch this space …
By KIERAN FINNANE