Council faces probe after financial collapse

A public inquiry will investigate financial mismanagement at Central Coast Council, which has been in the hands of an administrator since last October.

Commissioner Roslyn McCulloch

Councillors were suspended  and an administrator was put in charge last year after the council, created via a forced amalgamation of Gosford City and Wyong Shire in 2016, found itself $32.5 million in the red.

On Monday local government minister Shelley Hancock announced she was holding a public inquiry to investigate the NSW council’s financial management and its ability to serve the local community.

It comes after interim administrator Dick Persson released his final report earlier this month.

In it, Mr Persson said there was no evidence of corruption but “there is absolutely no evidence that the financial collapse of the CCC was caused by the merger”.

Commissioner appointed

Any member of the community with concerns about Council would now be be able to raise them with the commissioner, local government minister Shelley Hancock said.

Shelley Hancock

“The performance of Central Coast Council, particularly concerning financial management, has been of great concern to the local community,” she told a media conference.

“I want to see Council performing in the best interest of the community and this public inquiry will help get to the bottom of the issues which have impacted its performance, resulting in my suspension of Councillors and appointment of an interim administrator.”

Roslyn McCulloch, who conducted the 2019 inquiry into Balranald Shire Council, will head the inquiry and report to the government regarding whether Council should dismissed.

Elections postponed

The decision means local government elections scheduled for September will be postponed for Central Coast until late 2022.

Central Coast councillors will remain suspended during the probe.

Meanwhile, Mr Persson will step down from his role as interim administrator. Mr Hart, who has been general manager at Central Coast as well as City of Parramatta, Inner  West Council and Warringah Council, will step into Mr Persson’s role.

Inquiry welcomed

Mr Persson has welcomed the decision of an independent inquiry as he had recommended in his report.

Dick Persson

“My Final Report recommended this course of action as there is still a lot to do before the Council recovers from the disruption of the past three years,” he said in a statement.

“The new CEO (David Farmer) and new administrator need to continue the ‘recovery’ without the political distractions which would have inevitably occurred if the Councillors had been allowed to return.”

Mr Persson, who was set to wind up his job on April 29, will remain for an extra two weeks to allow Mr Hart to attend to personal matters.

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2 thoughts on “Council faces probe after financial collapse

  1. This is a great example of a Council that was set up to fail. The Council has had a long history of State Government interference in its land-use planning. In the early 1990s, the NSW government made the Central Coast into the magnet for Sydney’s growth. It ignored plans to grow the Northern Beaches, set up under Environment and Planning Minister Carr. The Griner Government closed a rail corridor on the Northern Beaches to preserve the location as a safe Liberal seat. The growth corridor was moved north into the Central Coast. At the time Gosford had a lot of septic tanks and few well-built roads. The government pushed massive population growth to the outer rim of the city. Today it is doing the same unsustainable planning. Looking for new land areas at the periphery is a costly way to expand.

  2. I have read what you have written and while sound, neglects to mention the increased funds in their coffers due to massively increased collected rates collected from all these “new” residents who now reside in the area
    Wyong Council was self sufficient but has now been “tacked” onto Gosford – what a sham!

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