Still more questions than answers over Council debt

Forum –

I really like the job the Chronicle has been doing in reporting the Central Coast Council rate rise.

The letter by Alan Hayes (Chronicle Forum, p15 Feb 10) has, for me, set the cat amongst the pigeons.

There’s still some questions to be answered, and in his mission to get the rate rise up, Mr Persson has appeared to have missed $465M.

He has been quoted previously in the Chronicle that “with a 15 percent rate rise, Council will be able to repay $100m within 10 years by delivering modest budget surpluses” and that “while Council had an accumulated debt of $565M, it is important to note that when the former Gosford and Wyong councils merged, they already had a debt of $314M between them, largely due to inappropriate access of restricted funds”.

If there exists a $565M debt and we, the ratepayers, pay off $100M over 10 years, what happens to the other $465M?

If there was an already $314M debt when Mike Baird forced the two councils to merge, why weren’t the alarm bells ringing then and something done about the rising debt?

Why is it that the State Government, which is responsible for the administering of local government, will not pick up the debt and will not give any reason for refusing to do so?

This is the case, especially in light of recent grants to friendly councils by way of alleged pork barrelling.

Why did Council hire an extra 300 people since the merger when every position in the merged Council was already duplicated?

This seems to be blatant bad management and totally inefficient.

One would expect jobs that were duplicated to be sorted through redundancies and natural attrition.

How could it be that no one from Councillors to the Minister for Local Government, including Council’s accountants and auditors, did not know about this massive, record breaking debt?

Why are the people who let this happen not being charged with criminal offences and, in some cases, still working for Council?

Email, Feb 13
Steve Kelly, Berkeley Vale