The three West Ward councillors who represent the Peninsula, Cr Chris Holstein, Cr Richard Mehrtens and Cr Troy Marquart, , have taken differing stances on the Council’s financial crisis.
At the October 13 council meeting, Cr Chris Holstein defended the move to seek Government help to borrow or use restricted funds.
Cr Holstein said the only other option was for the Minister to dismiss the council and install an administrator.
Cr Louise Greenaway asked councillors, if they accepted there was a problem but it didn’t want to borrow or use restricted funds, “where was the solution”?
Cr Rebecca Gale asked how common it was for a council to appeal to the Minister to use restricted funds.
Both a staff response and a response from Cr Chris Holstein seemed to indicate it was not uncommon.
Mayor Cr Lisa Matthews had said earlier in the evening that the installation of an administrator was always a possibility.
Cr Jilly Pilon said it may be the best option while Cr Richard Mehrtens said it was last thing the community needed.
After the meeting, Cr Mehrtens said there were many questions that needed to be answered including how the situation came about, how long it has been going on, how the council can get back on track and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“An elected Council needs to enjoy the trust of its electors, and it is the work of the 15 of us to work together to see our community through this difficult time.
“This matter is not about budget deficits that some are conveniently trying to portray.
“These are fundamental and structural issues within the financial systems and controls of Central Coast Council.
“Councillors have been trying to get as much information as possible about the nature of the issues at hand.”
Cr Marquart was one of four signatories to a Notice of Motion at the Council meeting, entitled “Collapse of Confidence in Council’s Internal Controls and Financial Management”, which triggered the debate.
After the meeting, Cr Marquart blamed “Labor and the green-minded independent councillors”, saying they had “burnt money hand over fist and have total disregard for balancing the books”.
“I would not trust the majority of the current councillors with a pocket full of pennies.
“There is not a sufficient amount of available funds to continue to pay for all the services our community is accustomed to.
“The majority of councillors have spent the ratepayers’ dollars like drunken soldiers, which has assisted the collapse and disaster we now reside within.
“Myself and my conservative colleagues have practically begged the Labor and Green-minded independent councillor alliance to consider responsible spending for three years, but to no avail.
“Other people’s money is of no importance to them.
“If a Financial Committee of these very same councillors is our only saviour moving forward, then God help us all,” Cr Marquart said.
Central Coast Council agenda 6.2, 12 Oct 2020
Statement, 13 Oct 2020
Richard Mehrtens, Central Coast Council
Media statement, 15 Oct 2020
Troy Marquart, Central Coast Council