NSW Minister for Local Government Paul Lynch has acted on a Public Inquiry Commissioner’s recommendation to dismiss Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
Mr Lynch said in a statement that Commissioner Frank Willan had made the recommendation to dismiss the council over its handling of the Port Macquarie Cultural and Entertainment Centre, or Glasshouse, following a public inquiry that started in July last year. Warringah Council administrator Dick Persson was today appointed administrator.
According to a statement by the Minister, the key points of the report are:
* overall, the costs of the Glasshouse project grew from about $6 million or $7million in April 2002 to $41.7 million – six or seven times the initial budget.
• councillors and staff failed to impose adequate financial controls over the project.
• councillors have excused their failures upon the basis that financial issues were ‘operational issues’ falling outside their role.
• both the councillors and staff have failed to demonstrate prudent project management.
• the real cost of operating the Glasshouse will require a major amount of community subsidy.
• the council failed to consult the wider community in the planning and funding for the Glasshouse.
• the council has constantly misled the community about the Glasshouse project.
• the theatre and conference components of the Glasshouse cannot generate enough income to cover the long-term costs of operations and the annual financial shortfall will consume the bulk of the 2004 and 2005 special rate variations.
• it is difficult to see the current Council learning from its past mistakes.
Mr Persson will start immediately as administrator to serve for four years.
For more see www.dlg.nsw.gov.au
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