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Council in crisis

PLAIN TALKING: Discovering the extent of Council's debt over the 2010 NDRRA program was the topic of some frank talking by CEO Scott Waters and mayor Jennifer Whitney in the general business section of yesterday's ordinary Council meeting.
PLAIN TALKING: Discovering the extent of Council's debt over the 2010 NDRRA program was the topic of some frank talking by CEO Scott Waters and mayor Jennifer Whitney in the general business section of yesterday's ordinary Council meeting.
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council is being investigated by the State Government following the revelation of an overspend in the 2010 National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) program that could amount to an unfunded liability of between $8-25 million for this financial year.    Council issued a press release late on Friday stating ratepayers would "long feel the effects of a spending spree by the former administration who oversaw gross overspending, committing Council to projects far beyond its capacity to deliver".   Mayor Jennifer Whitney said she was "shocked and appalled at the extent of fiscal ineptitude demonstrated by the former administration pushing projects through Council prior to the election" and she said the region's ratepayers simply couldn't afford it.   Cr Whitney said she had questioned council expenditure for years "and it's extensively documented that I'd continually stated we were living well beyond our means".    "However, no-one could foresee the extent of the turmoil we'll have to clean up and unfortunately this may just be the tip of the iceberg" she said.   Cr Whitney said a couple of weeks ago the Queensland Reconstruction Authority became aware of some on-ground reconstruction works completed by Council that were potentially outside of the scope originally approved in 2010 by the then Department of Local Government and Planning.   She explained works outside of this scope would not be eligible for reimbursement under NDRRA.   "They gave us about $87 million and we've spent $103.5 million to date, which is increasing and what's happened is we have to wear the difference," she said.    At yesterday's Council meeting in Proserpine a motion was passed that Council authorise the newly appointed CEO Scott Waters to review strategies for refunding the debt.   

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