Costs to hit $1.5m?

TENSE: Crs Julian Fidge and Don Joyce during last night's council meeting. PHOTO: Luke Plummer

A WORST case scenario would see council’s crisis costs hit $1.5 million.

The figure was revealed during a tense Rural City of Wangaratta meeting last night.

The meeting also saw Councillor Julian Fidge forced to defend himself in the face of his impending suspension, while Councillors Tammy Atkins and Don Joyce both condemned the actions which led to his two month suspension by a Councillor Code of Conduct Panel.

About 100 people attended the council meeting, with support for the divided council evenly split among the crowd.

Former Councillor Lauren McCully set a cat amongst the pigeons in public question time when she asked when council was going to fully disclose its costs from the current crisis.

Mayor Rozi Parisotto hand-balled the question to acting director – sustainability, Peter Mangan, who in turn told the mayor it should be her responsibility to answer the question, before offering his own explanation.

“The budget provides for a contingency of $500,000 and that contingency was framed when we had a much more optimistic mind as to when the matter was going to be resolved.

“We’d have to be more pessimistic and the overall costs in a worst case scenario might be in the order of $1.5m.”

The topic got further airtime later on when former councillor Lisa McInerney’s father, Paul, asked if council was measuring the impact of its current crisis.

Cr Parisotto bristled at the question and asked him to repeat it, telling Mr McInerney he needed to be respectful.

She then launched into a spirited defence of council and its expenses, saying it was working under very difficult circumstances.

“I understand there is some community negativity out there,” Cr Parisotto said, before adding that just last week, she met with the Premier, Denis Napthine during a Regional cities Victoria meeting.

Following her answer both Councillors Julian Fidge and Don Joyce threw in their own answers to the gallery, breaking with protocol which usually sees the mayor direct all questions from the floor.

Councillor Fidge’s application to have a stay on his suspension will be heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) today.

Comprehensive coverage of all council matters will be in Friday’s Chronicle.

This post is part of the thread: Council Dramas – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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