Blowing a million dollar budget to ‘keep us special’
KEEPING Noosa "special by nature" is likely to blow the council's legal expenses budget, with $800,000 of a $1.1 million budget already spent this financial year.
Councillors on Monday have questioned the December financial report which showed the cost of defending appeals was $249,000 above the year to date budget - a blow out of 73 per cent.
Cr Jess Glasgow asked financial staff how such a budget overrun had come about and was told the development planning section was "quite robust" in pursuing appeal challenges.
The extra legal charges according to the report has been offset by above budget development application charges.
Cr Ingrid Jackson asked what the likely remaining appeals costs for the year may be and was told there should be a budget review likely in April.
"It's looking like we will exceed the $1.1 million annual budget," council financial services manager Trent Grauf said.
Council CEO Brett de Chastel said in the first six months of the financial year there had been two significant appeal trials which council both won.
He said a report to the February round of council meetings will detail the history of Noosa planning appeals over the last few years including costs and trends. This will also detail the current cases council is facing.
Mayor Tony Wellington said each year council at budget time had to make a "guesstimate" of legal costings.
"This has been discussed at the executive team level and we may need to reconsider the amount we've been regularly allocating on an annual basis for legal costs," Cr Wellington said.
Cr Glasgow said even these legal wins came at a cost to council, but Mr de Chastel said "it's better spending that money and losing them, though".
The mayor said the council has not had a planning court decision go against it during the present term in office.
"It's the cost defending the look and feel of Noosa that you have to accept that's going to be part of our ongoing costs," he said.