Jokin’ Joe criticised over “dead head” comment

AN Adelaide Plains councillor made an inappropriate remark about council staff during an in-depth conversation between elected members about the financial outlook of council’s 2018/19 draft budget.

Council held a special meeting of elected members on Monday night to address imperfections in the draft budget, which has yet to be released to public consultation.

During the meeting, elected members addressed which capital projects, set out within the draft budget, needed to be completed this financial year, as they attempted to address the $1.2 million operating deficit facing council.

As councillors debated the importance of keeping a $42,000 provision for the employment of a 0.6 IT support officer, Cr Joe Daniele talked down employing more staff.

“So we’re going to have another dead head in the office,” Cr Daniele said.

While Cr Daniele claimed to be joking, the chamber reacted poorly to the comment.

Adelaide Plains Mayor Tony Flaherty reaffirmed with councillors the importance of maintaining respect for all council staff during debates.

“You can’t joke about that,” he said.

“Please don’t say anything about the staff that can be taken detrimentally.”

Councillor Marcus Strudwicke challenged the chamber, prior to the debate, to “have the courage” to make cuts to council’s ongoing operating projects budget.

Following the comment, councillors acted swiftly and slashed around $480,000 worth of ongoing capital projects.

Upgrades to the Mallala council chambers; the implementation of closed circuit television at the Lewiston playground; and council office upgrades at Two Wells were among the cuts.

Financial provisions for a development of the Two Wells main street and the implementation of the Northern Food Bowl development plan  amendment were also left out.

A further $82,000 was saved by culling proposed expenditure on projects which council was not willing to cut entirely.

Elected members also sought additional clarity on a number of projects which they believed could potentially be cut, contingent on receiving more detailed reports from council staff about the projects.

A final draft budget will be prepared in time for next Monday’s ordinary meeting, where elected members will make a call whether to release the plan for public consultation.

Tom Staggard

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Born and raised in Adelaide's northern suburbs, Tom attended Tyndale Christian School in Salisbury East before studying journalism at the University of South Australia. Tom joined The Bunyip in June 2017 after previously working in the Adelaide Hills for The Courier newspaper in Mount Barker and the Weekender Herald in Crafers. As part of his role, Tom will cover the Adelaide Plains and Playford council regions. Away from work, he is a massive sports fan and loves all things football, cricket, basketball and soccer.

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