Maitland councillors unhappy with cost of September 2017 election

Maitland councillors are reeling after learning that the September local government election is likely to cost almost $500,000.

Councillors spoke about the issue at the March 14 council meeting. Mayor Cr Peter Blackmore told his colleagues “that’s a lot of money.”

In a report council’s Project Manager Governance Graeme Tolhurst said council received a quote from the Australian Election Company of $497,633.

He said there were a number of items totaling $94,544 which were part of the quote that council is reviewing. He said a reduction in the cost was expected.

Cr Peter Garnham suggested the Australian Electoral Commission would be more expensive, but Mr Tolhurst said they were too busy to provide a quote. “They said it wouldn’t be any cheaper,” he said.

Cr Steve Procter wanted to know why there was an increase in the cost provided by the Australian Election Company. “It was $455,000 in 2016 and now it’s $497,000. That’s an extra 10 per cent,” he said.

Mr Tolhurst said the  local government election held in 2012 was run by the Australian Election Company and ran smoothly. He said given council’s experience in 2012 it is recommended that council engage the company for the September ballot.

“Council has budgeted $455,000 for the election to be held in September 2016 which is in the current operational plan. This amount can be rolled over to the 2017/2018 operational plan and given the quote from the Australian Election Company, it may need a slight adjustment,” Mr Tolhurst said.

In the end councillors voted to appoint the Australian Election Company to undertake the September election.

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