Former Ipswich councillors spent millions of ratepayer dollars on projects in their own areas instead of funding initiatives that would have benefited the Queensland city as a whole.
About $7 million was tipped into a division-based fund each year which was spent on projects backed by individual councillors, a report by an administrator called in to manage the council has found.
Once councillors even amassed more than $2 million to be spent in their particular divisions in the lead-up to the 2020 council elections.
“That’s a considerable amount of money each year that could have gone towards major infrastructure projects that would benefit the city as a whole,” says the report by council interim administrator Greg Chemello.
Mr Chemello was called in to manage the council after it was sacked in 2018.
The state’s corruption watchdog has so far charged 16 people, including two former mayors and a chief executive, with criminal offences.
Ipswich council was split into 10 divisions that were each represented by one councillor before it was embroiled in corruption allegations.
The interim management has overhauled the arrangement and detailed changes in the report released on Friday.
The city will now be represented by a mayor and eight councillors across four divisions at the upcoming March election.
Prior to its administration, the council had failed to put in place an overarching framework for processing development applications and related activities.
Council officers were required to hand over their draft reports and recommendations to the then-mayor, planning committee chairperson and local divisional councillor before they could be finalised.
It was claimed the process enabled elected officials to request for applications to be presented to a formal council meeting for consideration.
However, it meant unofficial interactions were taking place between councillors, staff and applications outside of meetings.
The closure of 10 divisional offices and their operating costs will save $2 million a year and the council’s complaints system has been overhauled.
Staff have made 118 complaints in the 16-month period since the council was sacked, including allegations of theft, cronyism, fraud, sexual harassment and racial discrimination.