Government won’t ‘bail out’ Council, says Crouch

The NSW Government will not bail out Central Coast Council from its financial mismanagement, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Mr Adam Crouch said last week.
“There will be no State funding or legislative exemptions,” he said.
He said the council should also draw on the expertise of its own audit and risk committee and not seek experts from the Office of Local Government
Mr Crouch said the community expected councillors and Council staff to do their job, balance the books and provide services to local residents.
“Under the Local Government Act, councils are independent, autonomous bodies with many statutory responsibilities in serving their communities and that includes sound financial management,” Mr Crouch said.
“The NSW Government will not bend the rules for a council that has fundamentally failed to do the job the community expects them to do.
“The councillors are Council’s governing body and are responsible for these operational failings
“Mayor Cr Lisa Matthews needs to stand up and take responsibility for the problems she was elected to oversee.
“She needs to show some leadership and work with her fellow councillors and tell the community what they are going to do about it.”
“It’s been over a week since Central Coast Council found out about its financial dire straits and all it has done is write a letter and set up yet another Finance Committee.
“Council’s so-called 100-Day Recovery Action Plan has not even been published for the community to see.
“I have spoken extensively with the Minister for Local Government and the Government will not be strong-armed into taking responsibility for Central Coast Council’s failings.
Mr Crouch said the Office of Local Government has been in contact with Central Coast Council’s Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee, which has the knowledge, skills and experience to advise councillors about these matters.
“This committee – which is already in place and has extensive knowledge of the Council – has independent experts with extensive financial and human resources skills,” Mr Crouch said.
“The Office of Local Government has written to the Committee’s independent chairperson Dr Col Gellatly to request that he play a key role in advising councillors on how to address these matters as quickly as possible.
“This includes advising councillors on the Council’s current financial position, its statutory responsibility for managing its finances, the effectiveness of any actions taken by the Council, and any recommendations for the future.”
Mr Crouch said Dr Gellatly has had a distinguished career in the public service and previously held the position of the Director General of the NSW Premier’s Department for 13 years.
He also had a wealth of local government experience as administrator of Wollongong City Council and chair of Newcastle City Council and City of Parramatta Council’s Audit Committees, Mr Crouch said.

Media release, 14 Oct 2020
Adam Crouch, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast