Administrator’s report to be tabled on December 3

Pictured: Rik Hart (left) and Dick Persson

Administrator, Dick Persson, has told the Chronicle that he will table his report detailing the financial situation of Central Coast Council at a public meeting on December 3.

The Administrator took the role on October 30 and promised on November 2 that he would produce in 30 days a “plain English” report outlining the issues and a series of options on the way forward.

Persson flagged early on that those options could include rate rises and asset sales.

The eagerly awaited list of “under-performing assets” that could be nominated for sale will be made public at the November 30 Council meeting at the latest.

Council is currently finalising the recommendations and undertaking extensive due diligence works involving finance and legal matters.

The Procurement team is working in parallel to establish a period contract/panel for use in the disposal of property assets,” said a Council report to the November 23 meeting.

At that meeting, Persson announced that he had hired an acting Chief Operating Officer for three months.

Persson said that there were big planning issues and big operational issues coming up.

He had formed the view that a “wise head was needed” and he has hired Malcom Ryan, one of the most respected planners in NSW.

“Mr Ryan has agreed to spend less time with his grandchildren and spend some time on the Coast,” Persson said.

“If I have to deal with the possible merging of Local Environment Plans (LEP), I am much more comfortable with Mr Ryan around,” he said.

The LEP refers to the two Local Environment Plans, one from the former Gosford Council and one from the former Wyong Council, that are still to be consolidated into one Central Coast LEP.

Council is focused at present on the Business Recovery Plan which has seen the Council so far accept a $50M loan from a top tier financial institution at an interest rate below two percent.

Negotiations have started for a loan to secure $50M to $100m for capital works.

A review of Council’s 2020-21 operating budget and capital program has been completed and opportunities logged, detailing ways to improve Council’s financial position.

Also, all monthly and quarterly Budget Pack financial reporting assumptions have been reviewed.

Unit Managers across the organisation have identified about 200 opportunities to further reduce operational expenditure.

“The current priority focus is to validate the ideas presented, analyse the time required to realise any financial savings, and identify actions that will produce further financial savings in the immediate future,” Council reported.

Council is finalising the first phase engagement for the forensic audit with KPMG.

Persson said that Council continued to closely monitor, track and reconcile its cash position on a daily basis.

“Progress has been made on identifying and mitigating the key causes for the financial situation that Council finds itself in,” Persson said.

“The objective of the Business Recovery Plan is to achieve financial recovery and sustainability by continuing to focus on the intake of cash and expenditure reduction, coupled with more sustainable cash preservation initiatives and strategies.

“Notwithstanding, I am confident we will be able to set a path that will get us to where we need to be.

“I will consult to the maximum extent possible about the best mix of options,” Persson said.

Merilyn Vale

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