A last-minute attempt to review Indigo Council's tourism department, before it receives funding in the 2020-21 budget, narrowly failed at Tuesday's meeting after lengthy debate between councillors.
The meeting's need to be held online via Zoom because of coronavirus did not stop discussions becoming heated with councillors talking over the top of each other.
Cr Bernard Gaffney wanted to see the tourism review before the budget was passed, which would push it back to September at the latest.
His proposed amendment was that "council requests the CEO to provide a service review of the Indigo Shire tourism department including: a) visitor services, b) the tourism department, c) the Burke Museum and Historic Precinct and to bring this to council before presentation of the final budget report".
Some 10 minutes of the debate was dedicated to an argument over whether councillors could actually vote on the amendment, including five minutes where the meeting was paused so the mayor and chief executive could have a private conversation in another Zoom room.
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They eventually decided the draft budget as it was presented in the council agenda had to be voted on first.
It passed narrowly 4-3 - with the support of mayor Jenny O'Connor, deputy mayor Sophie Price, Cr Larry Goldsworthy and Cr Diane Shepheard - meaning the tourism review debate did not occur.
Cr Goldsworthy said councillors and staff had been working on the budget for about six months and the issue of a tourism review was never raised.
"We're in uncertain times and we have adapted this budget in recent months to consider the COVID-19 effects. It may well be a continuing working project over a number of months," he said.
The draft budget includes a 2 per cent rise in rates, in line with the Victorian government's rate cap, and a cash deficit of $1.09 million for the 2020-21 financial year.
Cr James Trenery said some Indigo businesses had lost about 50 per cent of their income during the pandemic.
"They want to know what we're doing, how we've saved money, so we're not putting an extra burden on the community," he said.
Chief executive Trevor Ierino said the council had made more than $600,000 in savings by not giving shifts to casual staff and not replacing vacancies for full-time employees, plus not spending money on travel and accommodation for conferences, and food catering for events.
The draft budget will go out for public comment before coming back to councillors for a final vote in July.
The next Indigo Council meeting will be held at the end of June, after more coronavirus restrictions have eased.
"It may even be a face-to-face one, who knows," Cr O'Connor said.