Power play

Lockhart Shire Council general manager Chris GallagherLockhart Shire Council will review where it spends ratepayer’s money next week with revelations the council is paying for the general manager’s electricity bill.

It was highlighted at an extraordinary council meeting on April 23 that ratepayers are footing the bill for Chris Gallagher’s electricity.

The council has budgeted the total cost for this financial year to be $3,200 or $800 every three months – the revelation comes at a time when residents across NSW are feeling the pain from power bills which are set to rise 17 per cent for Country Energy customers.

It is believed there was an arrangement for the previous general manager which continued when Mr Gallagher took over the role.

Lockhart Shire Council mayor, Peter Yates confirmed that Mr Gallagher’s contract does not include electricity charges.

Councillor Ken Hogan said it was a council oversight that it had not been addressed before.

“He may have been receiving something he’s not entitled to,” Cr Hogan said.

Fellow councillors Jean Gooden, Joy Schultz, Leia Thiele, Anthony Male, John Paterson, Sylvia Mulholland and Rodney McDonnell chose not to comment until the issue was discussed again at the next council meeting on Monday May 21.

Defending Mr Gallagher, Cr Yates said the amount of work the general manager did for the shire was beyond a traditional 38 hour week.

“It’ll be discussed and either added to his (Mr Gallagher’s) contract or he’ll have to pay his electricity bills,” Cr Yates said.

Lockhart Shire Council owns several properties across the shire including several homes provided to senior management, community halls and recreation centres.

Cr Yates said in addition to the electricity costs on Mr Gallagher’s home, the next council meeting would also examine ratepayers funds spent on council’s other properties.

When contacted by the Eastern Riverina Chronicle Mr Gallagher declined to comment.

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