Mid Murray Council allows Mayor Dave Burgess to attend LGA conference at Renmark despite cost-cutting

Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess. Photo: File.
Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess. Photo: File.

Money is tight at Mid Murray Council, but should a few hundred dollars stop the mayor representing it at a local government conference?

Yes, said some of the district's councillors at a meeting last week.

Cr Peter Smith argued that Deputy Mayor Kevin Myers, not Mayor Dave Burgess, should attend a Local Government Association conference at Renmark because he lived closer, and might be able to commute or stay with a family member.

That would have saved the council $320 in accommodation costs, and kept its liabilities of more than $21 million from growing any larger.

But Mr Burgess said attending the conference would let him network with government ministers and other mayors, sharing ideas that could benefit the Mid Murray.

"For someone to call that a waste of money, that's a joke, and I think you're not taking your job seriously," he said.

Anyway, he said, it would be embarassing if Cr Myers had to explain he had been sent to save such a small sum.

Cr Peter Raison was among the majority who defended the spending.

"The people of Mid Murray Council elected (Mr Burgess) mayor," he said.

"He should be able to represent us and not get nitpicked.

"We're not here to micro-manage."

Cr Jeff Hall agreed.

"We have to pay these people and trust they're going to do the right thing," he said.

"We have auditors to keep that under control."

Cr Steven Hennessy was mostly angry that councillors had been asked to approve the trip only a day in advance.

"Why should council approve it if payment has already been made?" he asked.

The roads and works conference was held on Thursday and Friday.