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Councillor calls for independent review of finances

A MAVERICK Maryborough councillor is calling for an independent review of the Fraser Coast Regional Council and has promised ratepayers he will "bat much harder" in the next budget.

For the second year in a row, Chris Loft has called for a "robust discussion" and an independent review into the council's finances.

"You can be navel gazing and thinking you're going well yourself but until you get someone from outside who's got experience - that's how you make real savings," he said.

As anger about the 3% rate rise shows no signs of lessening, Cr Loft said the community was at "full stretch" and the council needed to start performing.

"We really need to start stepping up to the mark," Cr Loft said.

But Mayor Gerard O'Connell said the council's finances were well managed and an independent review wasn't needed.

"We have an independent audit committee that's made up of key financial people, councillors and external providers," he said. .

"In terms of independence and review, you probably could get nothing more thorough than the credit review and financial review conducted by the Queensland Treasury Corporation."

Cr Loft has also questioned the council's level of services and suggested some be offloaded to other organisations.

"If we're ruthless, we can get out and leave it (services) to other departments or non for profit organisations - I won't be anymore specific than that," he said.

"Savings is not a dirty word."

Cr Loft was accused of "sabotage" and "political-grandstanding" at the council's budget meeting in June after he suggested a 0% rate rise.

Speaking on Monday, Cr Loft stood by his views of cutting spending to minimise a rate rise, but he distanced himself from his previously proposed 0% rise.

"I don't know if I would have said that - I think that we can bat much harder and we definitely will for the next budget," he said.

Cr Loft said the council needed to save money because the community was stretched and at the budget meeting he cited about $8 million in cuts to the council's future infrastructure plans.

However at the meeting, chief executive Lisa Desmond analysed Cr Loft's plans and only found $800,000.

When asked about Cr Loft's proposed cuts to infrastructure spending, the Mayor said he'd had his chance.

"Every councillor including Cr Loft had the opportunity to present possibilities," he said.

Cr O'Connell said it was "the most extensive review and assessment of a budget" he had ever been involved in.

Topics:  budget, chris loft, fraser coast regional council, independent review, maryborough



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