It is not clear whether chief executive Mr Gary Murphy was made aware of the extent of the council’s financial crisis by staff before the notice of motion was submitted for the agenda for last Monday’s meeting.
Mr Murphy is currently on leave and did not attend the Monday, October 12, council meeting.
The extent of the cashflow issues before Central Coast Council remains under investigation and has not been quantified for the public to make its own assessments.
An audit and risk committee did not uncover the problem, nor did the NSW Audit Office when it audited the 2018-19 books.
The 2019-20 budget was adopted by councillors without advice from staff that any cashflow problems were imminent.
The true cost of sacking the old councils and merging them into Central Coast Council has never been disclosed but has been estimated at up to $150 million.
Cost shifting from NSW Government to the Council has been estimated at another $45 million per year.
Council has had to cover the costs of the latest erosion works at Wamberal and The Entrance North, for instance, and it is understood the NSW Government now requires Council to submit a funding application to recover those costs.
Central Coast Council also extended its rates deadline by a month to assist the community with the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which means receipts for rates would’ve caused some cashflow constraints in September-October but this should be short-term.
A New Year’s Day bushfire and flooding in the northern parts of the Central Coast Local Government Area were also unexpected imposts that have had an impact on the Council’s budget.
Mr Murphy appointed insolvency experts to appraise the impact Covid-19 would have on the Council’s bottom line in March, foreseeing the hit Council could take on fees, charges and rates.
The operational plan got cut back, due dates for rates were changed and those in arrears were excused from paying penalties – all at a significant cost to Council’s bottom like.
Local government employees were excluded from JobKeeper so Central Coast Council has had to keep footing its full wages bill even though its incomings were impacted by Covid 19.
The company consulted to deal with Covid-19 may have uncovered other issues and told the chief executive he needed to act.
An extraordinary general meeting of Central Coast Council will be held tonight, October 19, to deal with matters deferred from last week’s agenda.
Central Coast Council agenda 6.2, 12 Oct 2020