March 24, 2020
In a sharp departure from past practice, the public will soon be able to watch South Burnett councillors as they go through the difficult process of preparing the region’s annual Budget.
At Wednesday’s General Meeting, Councillors agreed to a proposal from Mayor Brett Otto that the public be allowed to view Budget discussions and observe the complex trade-offs Councillors have to make between services and charges each year.
All Council Budget preparation meetings have been held behind closed doors since the 2008 amalgamation.
This was justified on the basis that some matters raised during Budget discussions were commercial-in-confidence.
However, Mayor Otto said he believed the thrust of the State Government’s Belcarra reforms was to promote more openness and transparency in local government.
Allowing the public to see the often difficult trade-offs Councillors have to make when they set the annual Budget was in keeping with the spirit of the times.
He said any genuine commercial-in-confidence issues that arose could still be heard in camera.
The Budget meetings are expected to be held on Wednesday afternoons between April 27 and June 2 after the regular meetings conclude.
The process of setting a Budget typically takes about three months, with the SBRC’s 2021-22 Budget scheduled to be handed down on June 30.
Apart from attending the Council’s Kingaroy chambers in Glendon Street in person, residents will also be able to see the meetings livestreamed on Council’s website.
The motion to open Budget meetings to the public was moved by Mayor Brett Otto, seconded by Cr Kathy Duff and carried unanimously.