Shellharbour Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin has defended council staff from criticism by fellow Liberal councillor Kellie Marsh over a series of staff press releases described as being in favour of a rate rise.
The series of press releases from staff warn, among many things, that wheelchair-access projects would be shelved and the viability of Shellharbour's 62 sporting clubs would be in jeopardy if a forecast funding shortfall was not addressed.
Shellharbour City Council is proposing to lift rates by 8.4 per cent in 2013-14, 9 per cent in 2014-15, 10 per cent in 2015-16 and another 10 per cent in 2016-17.
Cr Marsh and independent councillor Peter Moran both expressed outrage at the statements from staff.
The two councillors said decisions on where money would be allocated were for councillors to make, not staff.
Cr Marsh added that if it wasn't for the proposed $57 million City Hub project the council "would have money to burn quite frankly".
A recommendation to engage an external project manager for the hub project will be debated by councillors tonight.
Cr Rankin said his fellow councillors needed to get out and see the state of sporting facilities in the area.
He said as a member of the council's sport and recreation working party, he was aware the council was always working to secure grants from state and federal sources.
However, not every project fitted all criteria, he said.
Admitting he also had some concern about the staff issuing the statements, which he said were put "bluntly", the fact was they were true.
He said, despite the criticism of his fellow Liberal Cr Marsh, there was still "solidarity" between the two councillors.
"The good thing about the Liberal Party is we can think independently of each other," Cr Rankin said.
"The Labor councillors vote the same way, but if we disagree we can follow our own conscience."
Last month a council survey showed almost 60 per cent of respondents supported a rate rise above 3.4 per cent, a survey Cr Marsh attacked as being "loaded".
The special rates variation is contained in the council's Draft Delivery Program, which is open for public comment until April 2.