They’re trying to take our money: Playford

NOOSA Mayor Noel Playford has warned the regional council could be breaking the law if it refuses to hand over another $20 million as part of the de-amalgamation split.

As the divide between the two councils continued to grow, Councillor Playford accused Sunshine Coast Council of trying to take money that rightly belonged to the people of Noosa.

Cr Playford was responding to claims by Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson that only $582,000 was owed to Noosa after a $40 million cash transfer as part of the de-amalgamation split.

He said the southern council could breach the law if it held on to money that could only be spent in Noosa.

"What we're talking about is not Sunshine Coast Council's money," Cr Playford said.

"Some of the money is actually held in trust and can only be spent in Noosa Shire by law.

"And, far from trying to rip anyone off, Noosa Council contributed $77 million in cash at the time of amalgamation and even if all these issues were decided in our favour, our total share would be around $60 million.

"So I think that is as good an argument as any - they're trying to take our money."

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He said the State Government decided the transfer committee, made up of the two council CEOs, would decide how assets and cash settlements would be divided.

"A few months ago there were three items on which they couldn't agree," he said.

"They were referred to the minister and that was the end of that."

He said that when the transfer committee wound up in June, there were five remaining funds disputes.

Cr Playford took a swipe at "talk about Noosa Council engaging in deceptive conduct" over de-amalgamation claims.

A high-ranking state government official told a hearing in July that council's claim that de-amalagmation cost $2.3 million did not include a further $8 million incurred after the December 31, 2013 cut-off for reporting.

"De-amalgamation costs by definition were costs incurred by the transfer team up to December 31 and then by the transfer committee by January 1 and June 30," Cr Playford said.

"They total approximately $2.6 million.

"Everything else that has occurred has been decisions of Noosa Council in the course of its ordinary business." He said that in relation to the $6.5 million in staff redundancies, "people are trying to make out that they are de-amalgamation costs".

"They are not," he said.

"When Noosa Council was formed we decided on an interim organisational structure which we fine-tuned over the next six months.

"Initially we decided we didn't have positions for a significant number of staff and even subsequent to that - as little as two months ago - we finalised the organisational structure and made some more cuts.

"They're operational matters just like councils across Queensland have been doing for the last few years.

"We made a decision and paid out redundancies of around that figure and we will save that money by the end of the year and from then on we will save that much every year thereafter.

"What about the people whose positions that the Sunshine Coast Council made redundant - are they de-amalgamation costs?"


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