What will Redland City’s new Community Events Officer really do? Help the community or arrange lots of photo opportunities for a publicity hungry Mayor.
At the Redland City Council meeting on Wednesday it was decided to recruit a Community Events Officer at an estimated cost of $100,000 per year.
The new position will be funded by Council reallocating funds previously earmarked for community grants. Councillors were told that the new position would:
Attract, promote and coordinate community events to drive economic development in the Redlands through development and implementation of an event strategy for events such as: conferences, sporting events, cultural events, festivals and other community group uses of public space.
Council currently budgets to spend $1,010,000 per year on a range of community grant schemes but apparently is unable to give all of this money away. It was decided to reallocate $100,000 or about 10% of this budget provision to cover the cost of employing the Community Events Officer. Details of the various grants schemes and changes to their budgets are set out below:
|Counciilor Small Grants||$250,000|
|Capital Infrastructure Grants||$220,000||$187,000||-$33,000||– 15%|
|Project Support Grants||$160,000||$136,000||-$24,000||– 15%|
|Conservation Grants||$100,000||$65,000||-$35,000||– 15%|
|Regional Arts Development Fund||$100,000|
|Organisational Support Grants||$54,000||$46,000||-$8,000||– 15%|
|Community Events Officer||0||$100,000||$100,000||new item|
|Total Community Grants Budget||$1,010,000||$1,010,000|
Councillor Ogilvie raised concerns that the new position was an unaffordable luxury given Redland City has just adopted a budget with an $11.2 million operational deficit. His motion to defer filling the budget until after the Council completes a “back to basics” review of spending aimed at putting the City on a sustainable financial path was lost. Councillors Hardman, Hewlett, Beard, Talty, Edwards and Williams then proceeded to vote for filling the position by reducing community grant funding as shown above.
Council already has a comprehensive guide for planning events in Redland City.
This piece of business illustrates some serious deficiencies in the way that the Council is administered under Mayor Williams. There is a significant budget deficit but no serious attempt to trim the Council’s expenditure.
Councillors were told that because the Council’s processes for allocating grants were difficult to follow, inevitably some of the budgeted funds would not be spent. This admission should have resulted in Councillors resolving to either:
- Spend less on grants in order to reduce the City’s large operational deficit; or
- Improve Council’s processes for administering its grants programs
Earlier this year most people in the Redlands were bemused by a stream of Council publicity about some men in uniform being granted freedom of the city. There was no obvious reason for this event other than the Mayor’s insatiable appetite for photo opportunities. It seems likely that the new Community Events Officer will, at ratepayers expense, be arranging many more pointless photo opportunities for the Mayor.