It's an ill wind that blows no good!
Firstly though, there are people out there who want to play politics with the council merger and blame the NSW Government for the plight that we ratepayers find ourselves in.
Well the Government did the right thing in respect of the merger of Gosford and Wyong Councils. The merger was supposed to stop the ongoing war between the two councils as well as make them more efficient and cost less to operate.
The idea was good but the implementation was mad. As Administrator Dick Persson said, "15 is a parliament". And that's just what we got, along with a Ward system designed to tear our region apart. And these 15 utterly mostly hopeless councillors go to choose who would be Mayor.
From day one we were on a downhill slide.
With this council controlled by Labor plus two "independents" (the 10 Amigos!),
In the end this Council wasn't just bankrupt but it was totally dysfunctional.
Businesses that have operated successfully on the Central Coast for over forty years are now looking at getting out.
Worse still those who want to relocate out of Sydney (thanks to NorthConnex) are being thwarted at every move when dealing with Council's Planning and Environment Department.
So job generating businesses are giving up when we have the highest unemployment rates in the state.
But that's okay, the spotted wombat and the Wyong daisy are protected. That's all that matters.
While on the subject of Planning, the NSW Government in 2016 announced the Central Coast Regional Plan 2036. This plan says that our population will grow by 76,000 in that time and 25,000 jobs will be created.
Under this Council that will never happen.
To announce that they had arrived, from the very first council meeting our 10 Amigos made it clear that the Warnervale Airport would be closed down and set about to achieve just that. The cost? Millions of dollars.
To show their ignorance of governance and finance our 10 Amigos, having set the destruction of our economy in train, their next move was to spend like crazy and employ an additional 250 staff. Just keep going until the money runs out.
And it did!
In a strange twist of fate however, these 10 Amigos have successfully undone 30 years of campaigning by the anti-Warnervale Airport activists.
One of the last moves by Central Coast Council Administrator, Dick Persson AM, as his term comes to an end, was to approve the development of a Masterplan for Warnervale Airport and authorise for CEO to publicly exhibit the Airport Masterplan and negotiate and execute agreements that will enhance and promote the airport (See Page 14).
As so it came to pass that in the last weeks of April 2021 Mr Persson handed his Final Report to the Local Government Minister with his Key Findings being that there is absolutely no evidence that the financial collapse of Council was caused by the 2016 merger, no evidence of corruption, that financial mismanagement was the cause and that included the employment of an extra 250 staff and much more (see Page 8).
He recommended that the Minister call a Public Inquiry under the provisions of the Local Government Act and take whatever action necessary to prevent the return of the currently suspended councillors, and to delay the September 2021 election to allow a formal Inquiry to determine what is needed to achieve the successful merger of the two previous Councils.
The good news is that we now have an incoming Administrator who has already done a lot of work as Interim CEO in Rik Hart and will see that continue for the next twelve months along with a very able CEO in David Farmer who comes to job highly qualified and capable.