A PASSIONATE debate unfolded at Wodonga Council on Monday night as a bid was made to delay the construction of the city's new $10.2 million library.
Councillor Ron Mildren put a motion calling for the project to be suspended and its costs reviewed given it may need an extra $1.4 million in ratepayer funds.
"Let's take a step back, take a breath, review this process, review the things that we might be able to do to cut the cloth to fit the budget that we've got and take just a bit of time," Cr Mildren said.
"I think fiscal responsibility in projects like this can be too easily let slip through the net."
He was supported by councillor Libby Hall, who noted the council would spend $7.4 million overall on the project if a bid for Victorian government funding of up to $750,000 failed.
It would be "due diligence" given the city's reputation for high rates, Cr Hall said.
Deputy mayor Kat Bennett led the opposition.
"It just baffles me that we've had so many discussions about this why he's just at the eleventh hour bringing something so big as putting this massive project on hold," Cr Bennett said.
Councillor Danny Lowe questioned whether Cr Mildren had gone against a code of conduct by moving a motion without having informed colleagues of its contents before the meeting.
Mayor Anna Speedie said it was a "shame" Cr Mildren was not at a behind-closed-doors forum last week where "very robust discussions on the matter" occurred.
She said the council was being transparent by stating where extra funding would be sourced.
Cr Speedie invited chief executive Mark Dixon to comment on the spending plan amid the debate, a move which annoyed Cr Mildren.
"I think that was grossly unfair on the CEO putting him in that position, because everything he said reinforces what I've just said, it supports the fact that there is uncertainties, it didn't provide any factual contradictions to the things I've said and I'm quite disappointed he was called in to do that," Cr Mildren said.
However his plan was rejected 4-2, with the original motion passed by the same margin thanks to Cr Speedie, Cr Bennett, Cr Lowe and Councillor Brian Mitchell.
Councillor John Watson was absent.