Special meeting gives more power to CEO
CITY of Ballarat council unanimously passed a motion at a special meeting on Monday afternoon that gives further instrument of delegation powers to the municipality’s Chief Executive Officer.
The move was made because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and gives CEO Justine Linley the power to make purchasing decisions up to $5 million if council or its contracts special committee are unable to meet.
Once the current emergency is over the power will be reviewed. Normally the CEO can only make contract or purchasing decisions up to $500,000 without council approval.
Cr Daniel Moloney said it was extraordinary that council has had to approve such a vast expansion of the CEO’s powers in so little time.
“I would hate to think that this has potential to be our last council meeting,” he said.
“We enter a caretaker period ahead of the council elections in September, so our last act as councillors could be to effectively handover a significant portion of our roles and powers to the CEO.
“But again, I support the motion for the reason that we’re in extraordinary times and we don’t have much choice. Any other time, I’d be frustrated having to approve such wide sweeping changes to the CEO’s role, but I’m comfortable.”
Cr Moloney said local councils and democracy are always important, but the City of Ballarat will be playing a huge role in Ballarat’s recovery after the pandemic.
“It will be hard to do that effectively with one hand tied behind our backs if we’re not able to have formal meetings and make formal decisions as councillors, purely because there’s an archaic requirement in the Local Government Act which requires us to be physically present,” he said.
“Hopefully, that is something that comes to the State government’s attention in the very near future.”
Deputy-mayor Cr Belinda Coates also spoke for the motion, and said councillors are in a difficult emergency management position.
“I thank the CEO, directors and staff for really stepping up. It’s incredibly important for community confidence to see really clear leadership and messages, and to maintain calm and confident decorum around how we’re dealing with it,” she said.
“It’s a health crisis, but it’s a social crisis as well. Anxiety levels are high for a lot of members of the community, with health and business concerns, financial and environmental concerns, and connecting with each other…
“It’s an opportunity to pull together and learn some strong lessons quickly around building community resilience and social connectedness. If there one small positive, I’m hoping that will be one.”