On top of Central Coast Council’s financial crisis, more explosive news is yet to come about a confidential “staffing matter”, which Cr Greg Best describes as “an absolute monumental issue that is going to change the future of this Council in every way”.
The matter was raised at the October 12 meeting, but deferred until an extraordinary meeting on October 19.
No detail of the matter was made public.
Councillors refused to deal with the issue which “landed on their desks two minutes ago”, said Cr Best, who moved the deferral.
His Motion to defer was seconded by Cr Louise Greenaway who agreed that “the lack of notice about such a significant issue was wrong”.
The Mayor defended her decision to hold back the Mayoral Minute until the meeting, saying she did not want the information leaked to the public.
She said it had to be dealt with in confidential session because “it is personal matters concerning particular individuals”.
Cr Best replied that he understood the decision that was being offered.
“It’s a bit like: what do you want, a gun or a bomb?” he said.
“The outcome may be similar, but we need to talk about it and this is no way to do it tonight, [to] just ram it through like this.
“We’ve got to take responsibility for this, as has the General Manager, as have the staff and those that have brought this upon the ratepayers, and skating along on thin ice like we’re doing right now is just unbecoming of a democratic process. It’s shocking,” he said.
Cr Kyle MacGregor said that there were strict legal confines around what could be said.
“I can confirm that I received the email with this information at 6.46pm from staff [the meeting started at 6.30pm], but given the serious nature of it and the position we’re in, I believe this should be dealt with tonight,” he said.
“It’s particularly challenging to speak about it with the legal constraints, but we’re in charge whether you like it or not, we were voted in by the people to make very difficult and very serious decisions.
“Some things can be planned and go for some time and other things might hit you in the face like they did to us on Tuesday, of which we had no knowledge about until it did, and that’s another one we are gagged on and can’t speak about, but we are paid that high sum of $30,000 to make serious decisions on behalf of the ratepayers, the residents, and our relevant constituencies,” he said.
“We cannot run away from our duty and our obligations just because decisions are difficult or because they’re things you do or don’t agree with doesn’t mean you just can’t pull yourself out of it.”
Cr Jilly Pilon said she had strong concerns about the legal advice and asked if the matter was discussed tonight would councillors have appropriate legal advice to make a decision.
“After my discussion with you [Mayor] this afternoon, I believe this is a Labor set-up,” she said.
The Mayor said she was disappointed that people felt that they needed to defer and she was fearful of what would come of the information in the next week and the circus that would be encountered because the council was not dealing with the matter that night.
Sue Murray and Merilyn Vale