CEO refutes green groups’ criticism of grant ‘delay’

Gympie council CEO Shane Gray has refuted criticism of "unprecedented delays" in its awarding of environmental grants, and said such funding needed to be signed off by councillors, something which had not been done in the past.

The council's process came under fire this year in a letter written and signed by three of the region's environmental groups: Cooloola Coast Care Association, Gympie and District Landcare Group, and Koala Action Gympie Region.

The groups slammed the council for a delay in awarding grants funded by the Environment Levy, and said projects were being pushed back by up to five months as a result.

Mr Gray said the council was working to repair its budget and its due diligence "to ensure ratepayer-funded budgets are handled in a financially responsible manner".

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"This includes the requirement for grants to be taken to council for consideration and endorsement," Mr Gray said.

"The Environment Levy Grants have not been taken to council in the past, this need to be rectified."

He said staff would present the grant assessments to councillors at the upcoming February workshop.

In regard to a 2018-19 environmental spending report the groups said the council had refused their requests for copies of, which was "at odds with council being open and transparent", Mr Gray said no such document existed.

"Council was contacted requesting a report, with the requester notified that there was no report produced," Mr Gray said.

"The Environmental Levy Grants are an important avenue to continue to support this valuable work, however it is vital to ensure process is followed and respected."