A swipe towards Warrnambool City council's chief executive officer Peter Schneider over allegedly not being "in touch with staff " led to an exchange between the mayor and a councillor on Monday.
Cr Sue Cassidy said she was surprised Mr Schneider had referred to the organisational review in a revised Council Plan document that was to be adopted by councillors at the meeting.
Mr Schneider last year announced an organisational review into council resourcing levels, something that had long been called for by a number of councillors who were concerned the council's operations were unsustainable.
Cr Cassidy said the review - which would now not be enacted until the first half of 2021 - had been a concern for some staff over how it would affect their lives and their future at the council.
"Putting the review on the shelf until next year only causes more stress to the staff," she said. "I always think if you have talked about something for a while it needs to be put in place ASAP.
"I'm not sure the CEO is in touch with the staff because if you were you would not be making them stress longer."
That comment prompted mayor Tony Herbert to call a point of order and label it a derogatory comment.
When Cr Cassidy then went on to say: "To finish with, let's just hope someone is employed soon to take over the program...", Cr Herbert interjected to call another point of order and again label it another derogatory comment.
But Cr Cassidy asked "What for? I'm talking about 2040? What's so bad about that?"
She finished her comment by saying "...to take over the great work that has been achieved so far with 2040. I don't know what you're talking about."
Cr Herbert later apologised to Cr Cassidy saying he misunderstood what she was trying to say in her second comment.
Plans to implement the findings of the organisational review have been deferred because of COVID-19 but the council promised to consult staff, unions and other key stakeholders before any major changes were made.
Cr Cassidy also made reference to the organisational review during her earlier comments during budget discussions. She said this year's budget looked just like every other year.
"We do not seem to have learnt anything from the advice given last year that if we don't change the way we do things we will not be sustainable," she said.
"We are told about an organisational review that is going to help pave the way for the future of Warrnambool City Council. Where is it?
"We are in the middle of a pandemic that is not going away soon.
"We need direction from our leader on how Warrnambool City Council is going to survive and be sustainable and deliver everything the council does.
"So what is the plan?"
She said there seemed to be be no plan except to, like every other year, raise rates and user fees and cut important services for the vulnerable and young.
Cr Cassidy said the next four years were going to be hard. "We have an infrastructure gap that is growing by the day," she said.
She said that while it was great to have plans to monitor the deterioration of council's assets, it didn't help there was no money.
The Council Plan sets out the councillor's vision for the future of the city, and helps guide decisions of the council.
Last week, Mr Schneider blocked a move by four councillors to have parts of a staff survey made public.
In an opinion piece for The Standard on Saturday, Mr Schneider said his vision for staff was to work in a high-performing, values-driven organisation.
"To have a workplace where people are respectful of each other, work together, hold each other accountable and are free to innovate, to try new and exciting ideas without fear of failure," he wrote.
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