I thank Rik Hart and Dick Persson for their contribution to the Central Coast residents’ financial concerns and reiterate that the situation is not the residents’ making and I have not heard anything relating to legal prosecutions or actions as yet.
Mr Hart talks of having a debt recovery policy and it is a pity that this policy and all the other safeguards were not in place when knowingly the major administration personnel illegally tampered with ratepayer funds and now we have very little to show for it.
I alert Mr Hart to my proposed upcoming action to have the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigate this matter.
I can accept maybe $50M to $100M in deficit, but not well over $500M, approaching $600M, as no alarm bells were triggered by the CEO, elected councillors, directors of departments or some staff who must have seen the writing on the wall.
The Water Fund exceeded the budget by $12M, the Sewer Fund by $2.6M and Drainage Fund by $1.2M, yet a total of $15.8M over the budget did not result in any action?
Wages exceeded income with the accumulated debt since amalgamation being $166M, yet staff increased by 43 percent (242 extra).
My findings are that at the time of amalgamation there was a surplus of $65.4M, yet it seems the State Government had taken their eye off the game, maybe politically motivated, even though they forced the amalgamation.
Most of the Council failed to do their duty and all, including the Internal Ombudsman, neglected and abused their charters, governance objectives, codes of conduct and/or responsibilities under the guidelines of the Office of Local Government NSW.
I hope Mr Hart is not simply sweeping the issue under the carpet and putting the responsibility back on to the residents as shareholders, as I believe this would not stand up in a court of law unless some action by the Administrator or Mr Hart was seen as trying to recover part of our losses, not just expecting the ratepayers to pay for the illegal actions.
Mr Hart calls the use of restricted funds to be unlawful and with all his plans, be them good, bad or indifferent, coming back to the residents being punished by the sale of our assets.
Former Wyong Council residents are already paying a special levy and have been for several years because Council could not maintain our infrastructure, and now we find ourselves in this position.
If Mr Hart’s calculations are correct and the former Wyong district is seen to be so affluent and therefore will pay higher rates, why then was the community needed to build the Lakes Beach walkway?
Why do we have such a poor transport system, again having the community campaign to simply get lifts at Wyee Railway Station?
Why do we have poor telephone and television reception and why are we the dumping ground for 42,500 more residents?
Wyong area residents and business owners will continue to pay more rates than that of the former Gosford constituents, even though we are now one council, no matter if we like it or not.
Land values are much lower in the former Wyong region than that of Gosford, yet we still seem to be getting financially slugged.
Feeling sorry for the fixed lower income pensioners is a feel good response, yet it does very little to have a pensioner rebate if the increased rates eliminates what benefit the rebate has, because they still need to find further funds without extra income when most are struggling to make ends meet.
I feel that everyone except for the ratepayers have conveniently escaped any prosecution, blame or punishment, including the State Government that started the ball rolling.
I believe that pensioners should not have to pay the increase nor those in extreme financial circumstances with limited income.
I am totally ashamed to call myself a Coastie, yet at least I have a clear conscience because I always find out who the candidates are, no matter what election, and ask five questions: three on planning and two on disability and then vote accordingly.
At least we might get a councillor or two who is switched on to the real issues of their community and not pushing their Party lines.
It is apparent that the community will continue to do many of the jobs that Council either can’t or are unwilling to do, such as Landcare, Tidy Town, Precinct Committees, picking-up rubbish along our roadsides or simply mowing a few lawns.
There is a massive need for our community to understand the true and complete story of how we ended up nearly $600M in the red and until that complete and transparent information is forthcoming, as it stands I, as a ratepayer of the Central Coast, am not in favour of what is currently proposed (rate increases).
Email, Jan 25
Gary Blashke OAM, Lake Munmorah