Deputy Mayor Peter Blundell, CEO Rod Ferguson and Mayor Ron Bellingham hand down the new council budget.
Deputy Mayor Peter Blundell, CEO Rod Ferguson and Mayor Ron Bellingham hand down the new council budget. Shannon Newley

Scribes tackle mayor

AFTER the budget special meeting, reporters were invited to question Mayor Ron Bellingham, chief executive Rod Ferguson and corporate services director Andrew Ireland.

We tried to put to the panel the questions on ratepayers' lips.

Firstly we asked, why didn't council offer the option to split their rates bill and pay twice a year.

Cr Bellingham said while the idea had been discussed, ultimately it would be double the work and extra cost for the process.

We also asked how they felt about criticism of councillors for taking a pay rise when rates were due to go up.

Cr Bellingham said councillors' wages would fall this year as they lose their amalgamation loading.

He said an external tribunal suggested remuneration packages and not councillors themselves.

When asked whether he thought introducing high rate increases would be damaging to councillors' future, with the election coming in March, Cr Bellingham said he was pleased by the level of responsibility shown by the elected officials.

“Sometimes in this job, it's pretty damn hard,” he said. “For the most part, councillors have put the welfare of the organisation above personal aspirations.”



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