By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Casey councillor and state election candidate Susan Serey has defended her absence from the council’s final workshop ahead of the 2018-’19 draft budget.
On the day that councillors put the finishing touches to the budget, Cr Serey’s allies – the Narre Warren South Liberals – boasted that she was celebrating her birthday at other community events.
According to the group’s Facebook page on 5 May, she was “today meeting with community groups, talking to local residents and will attend a community fundraiser tonight.
“If you see her out and about, make sure you wish her a Happy Birthday!”
Cr Serey said the council budget was formed over “years and months of advocacy”, and “not just a single briefing”.
“I had placed an apology to the briefing last Saturday several weeks earlier due to pre-existing commitments, as had several other councillors.
“It is important to note that no changes to the budget can be made outside of an official council meeting as this would not comply with the Local Government Act 1989.”
She said she spent her birthday night at Narre Warren Our Lady Help of Christian Mother’s Day Gala Ball – “a great night with a great community”.
“The record vote I received in the City of Casey at the 2016 council election is a strong acknowledgement of my work and dedication to the community, as a councillor.”
Cr Serey’s ALP opponent Gary Maas said elected representatives were “accountable to their community first”.
“Ignoring key-decision making processes such as the City of Casey’s budget does not show respect to the office of Councillor or to the community.”
Casey mayor Geoff Ablett defended the absence of several councillors during the briefing.
He said by that stage, “90 per cent” of the budget had been done.
It was too late for the council to make substantive changes to the budget, he said.