19 FEBRUARY 2011
Much has happened since
ERA’s last newsletter. The Mayor’s astonishing secrecy,
indecision and unconventional behaviour continues to shake confidence
among ratepayers who want Eurobodalla to prosper with sound leadership
and highly competent administration:-
ERA Bulletin of 28 November 2010 reported how the Mayor named Councillors
who were members of the General Manager’s Performance Review
Committee, but insisted ratepayers must not know the identity and
qualifications of the Independent Facilitator from the Local Government
and Shires Association.
The phantom facilitator was, presumably, engaged to provide expert
guidance to the Review Committee. But the Committee secretly contrived
a determination that exceeded authority under Local Government legislation.
Decisions were later exposed as invalid.
Ratepayers, presumably, paid the phantom consultancy fee.
ERA believes this was the same LGSA representative who supported
the GM’s original appointment.
Open and accountable local government has no room for silly secrets
or inept decisions.
ERA wrote again to the Mayor on 10 February 2011. A copy of the
letter and attachments is attached to this newsletter for you.
The letter includes an account of our first general meeting that
was held on 24 January 2011, together with a list of the many points
raised by concerned residents.
ERA’s letter reminds the Mayor the best part of a year has
elapsed since the Community Forum, brought together by Council,
recognised the necessity for an external review. Council subsequently
resolved at an extraordinary meeting on 30 March 2010 that “Councillors,
Executive Leadership Team and a small community task force identify
and agree efficiency and effectiveness review options in consultation
with the General Manager who will report these options and inform
the Council of proposed actions.”
The Mayor was also reminded more than 3000 ratepayers endorsed ERA’s
call for such a public enquiry.
A leader with vision could be expected to see this review as an
opportunity to address community concerns, to deal candidly with
past mistakes, to learn from them and carry the Shire forward.
ERA asked the Mayor to cease procrastinating and move forward decisively
before the end of February.
A most peculiar technique for improving media relations and credibility:-
In July 2008 Eurobodalla Shire Council issued a media release proudly
announcing the appointment of a new General Manager. Our new man
was described as having, among other winning attributes, very strong
financial management experience and a Master of Business Administration
from Deakin University.
On 25 January 2011 the Mayor slipped in a footnote “Addendum
to media release”, informing whoever reads very old media
releases “There was an obvious error ....... It should have
read ........ a Graduate Diploma of Local Government Management
from Deakin University”.
So obvious it was approved by Council for circulation, not noticed
by Council’s Selection Committee, and remained uncorrected
for more than two and a half years.
DOING OUR SUMS
ERA believes an external review would examine whether our cash strapped
Council is making the most efficient use of funds and resources
provided by ratepayers. Full Time Equivalent Staff numbers have
hovered around 430 for the past five years, but expenditure on Employee
Benefits and On Costs have blown out by more than $6million over
the same period; from $M21.805 in 2006 to $M27.959 in 2010. In 2010
Employee Benefits and On Costs averaged roughly $65,000 per staff
member. Overtime amounted to $648,000 or $54,000 per month.
Council’s Annual Report lists the only senior staff member
as the General Manager with a [then] salary of $253,800.
Well managed corporations, proud of their executive talent, commonly
include in annual reports a brief account of the qualifications
and skills each senior staff member contributes to corporate objectives;
together with an indicative salary range.
Councils are required to include senior staff primarily responsible
for strategic direction and receiving total remuneration equal or
above NSW Senior Executive Service Level 1 [$155,100]. Absence of
information about the six Directors reporting directly to the General
Manager invites speculation.
Rumours flourish when confidence and trust is broken. ERA members
hear preposterous things that must be treated only as speculation
until Council chooses to be more forthcoming. The staff survey,
conducted with great promise but declared secret after its completion,
is said to point to a sorry state of affairs that suggests managerial
ineptitude. It is also rumoured that a review of the management
structure is being obstructed by the Mayor. Perhaps clarification
will be available before our next newsletter.