Ratepayers from a NSW South Coast town will no longer foot the bill for alcohol served to councillors and staff at post-meeting dinners after the newly-elected council last week voted to officially can the decades-long tradition.
First-time Kiama councillor Jodi Keast included the ban on ratepayer-funded booze in a motion put to her fellow councillors during debate on proposed changes to the schedule of councillor commitments.
In the past, Kiama councillors and staff directors had enjoyed an all-inclusive dinner package after each council meeting, with ratepayers picking up the tab for any alcohol consumed by the group.
However, Cr Keast proposed that all councillors and staff pay for their own alcohol at the post-meeting dinners, saying given the council's financial concerns, it was a symbolic gesture that demonstrated fiscal responsibility with ratepayer dollars.
Independent councillor Warren Steel was the sole voice to speak against the proposed change, saying it was the first time the issue had been raised in his 25 years on the council.
"I know things are tight, but are they that tight?" he said.
"When you think of the money councillors get compared to some of the staff, that's a hard ask I think."
However, he said he would support what the majority of councillors wanted.
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Cr Keast said just because it had been done in the past, didn't make it right, and she wanted to help build a culture at the council that promoted responsibility and consideration in all decision-making.
"Having residents pay for a meal is appropriate, but having residents pay for alcohol is less palpable for our ratepayers," she said.
Newly-elected mayor Neil Reilly voted in favour of the proposal, saying he thought it was a sensible policy to adopt.
"It's not responsible for the councillors to be provided with alcohol at the expense of residents and ratepayers," he said.
"If councillors or staff want to have a glass of wine or a beer with their dinner that's their decision, but it will be at their own expense."
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