All 24 ARIC applicants rejected

Central Coast Council Administrator, Dick Persson

Central Coast Administrator, Dick Persson, has admitted that Council’s handling of applications for membership to the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee (ARIC) was “not our best work”.

Council failed to find any person it would recommend to replace a professional member of the committee, despite 24 people applying for the position.

The appointment of the Chair, Dr Col Gellatly, one of three Independent External Members of the committee, ceases on April 27, resulting in a vacancy on ARIC.

A recruitment process was undertaken, but apparently no suitable candidate was identified within the 24 applications.

The interview panel had recommended that Council undertake a further recruitment process but at the April 13 Council meeting, Persson said that he did not believe that was the best path.

Instead, he decided that the new CEO, David Farmer, who started his tenure on April 12, should get involved and report back to Persson’s last meeting which will be held later in April.

A report to Persson also recommended changes to Council’s ARIC Charter.

The current adopted ARIC Charter provides for two Councillor members, but staff recommended changing the Charter to remove councillor members.

At the April 13 meeting, Persson said that it was a genuine debate, but it was not a decision he was prepared to have that night.

The matter will come back to the next council meeting.

The committee was spared from Persson’s criticism in his interim 30-Day Report that looked into the reasons for Council’s financial crisis.

“Managing the Council’s financial position is the number one job of the CEO and CFO,” he said at the time.

In 2017, Council’s first administrator, Ian Reynolds, heralded the new ARIC.

He said good governance would be assured under the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee.

Transparent decision making and ensuring good governance were its key drivers, he said.

ARIC’s role was to provide independent oversight, objective assurance and monitoring of Council’s audit processes, internal controls, external reporting, risk management activities, and all policies and procedures.

Reynolds also said in 2017 that the amalgamation presented a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive savings and facilitate greater investment in services and facilities for the Coast.

“To do that we need to continuously improve the way we do things and that is a clear focus of this Committee.

“The independent oversight and commitment of the members will have a positive benefit for the Central Coast for many years to come, supporting sound decision making and helping Council deliver services across the Central Coast more effectively.

“The community can be assured that there is true independent overview of audit processes and internal controls to ensure our financial management is second to none.”

Merilyn Vale