Pipe a drain on Newcastle council coffers

Newcastle City Council is locked in a legal stoush with BP that has left ratepayers out of pocket nearly $377,000. 

In a financial report that will go before Tuesday night’s meeting, it was revealed council has taken legal action against the company over a segment of broken pipework. 

“This is an on-going issue and the cost represents the pumping out of localised flooding and repair of pipework during negotiations,” it said. “It is expected that this money will be recouped from BP.” 

However it’s understood the dispute has dragged for more than three months. 

The council was also $100,000 over budget for employee costs during August, which was blamed on council’s building and road maintenance program which had “generated higher than average operational costs.”

“This is only a timing variation while staff complete operational work such as ‘City Serve’ and will be reversed as Council staff move on the capital portion of the works program,” the report said. 

The council has also voted to develop and place on public exhibition an “innovative proposals policy” that would provide staff with guidelines on how to better cater to unique ideas from local startups and incubators.

The council is hoping to dip into the State Government’s newly announced $190 million ‘Jobs for the Future Fund’, which includes $60 million to help grow regional companies and to attract large and international companies to base their headquarters in NSW. 

The City of Brisbane council and the City of Darebin council in Victoria both recently adopted similar policies and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the new fund was a “huge opportunity.” 

Liberal councillor Brad Luke cautioned that the definition of innovative proposals needed to be made “absolutely clear” because a plan like the casino at Barangaroo in Sydney might fall under a wide-enough umbrella. 

“Overall getting a policy like this is a great idea, as long as we’re not promising money but streamlining our system,” he said. 

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