Gympie council CEO Bernard Smith and Cr Glen Hartwig differ on the cause of the council’s $11 million operating loss.
Gympie council CEO Bernard Smith and Cr Glen Hartwig differ on the cause of the council’s $11 million operating loss.

Councillor slams $11M loss as ‘embarrassing’

GYMPIE Council's $11 million operating deficit has exposed a divide among its leaders, with the loss described as a "convergence of issues" and "embarrassing".

Chief executive Bernard Smith said the council is looking hard at its budget and some things may need to stay shelved.

"We can't do everything the community wants and have to make some hard decisions there," he said.

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However he remained confident the council will be back to surplus ahead of schedule.

"We want to make that sooner rather than later. No doubt we've had a convergence of issues, particularly with depreciation; $4.5 million is a big whack by anyone's standards.

CEO Bernard Smith says the council aims to return to surplus budgets sooner than expected.
CEO Bernard Smith says the council aims to return to surplus budgets sooner than expected.

"Most councils get to a point where they come to a squeeze point and I think we're there now."

However outspoken Division 2 councillor Glen Hartwig called the deficit was "embarrassing" for Mr Smith and Mayor Mick Curran.

"When explanations that it is a "complex science" are used to justify over spending you know that the fire ban has been lifted so more smoke can be produced to assist with the mirrors," Mr Hartwig said.

Any suggestion a "sharp focus" was needed to reel in costs was a "slap in the face" to councillors like himself who had been calling for fiscal restraint for years, he said.