Question: What has the Inner West Council got in common with the Central Coast?
Answer: Rik Hart has been general manager at both councils.
Central Coast Council’s current administrator Rik Hart was General Manager of the Central Coast for six months and GM of Inner West Council for two and a half years.
Mr Hart became GM of the Inner West in September 2016, four months after the merger of three former Sydney councils; Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield created the new council.
The Inner West Council is now in the process of trying to de-merge.
At the election on 4 December 2021, Inner West residents voted 62.49 per cent to restore the former local government areas of Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville.
The Inner West Councillors were presented with an updated business case for de-amalgamation at their September 13 Council meeting.
It was a 890 page report.
But a summary said that: “An outcome of allocating the de-amalgamation costs and benefits is that all three councils have a significant operating funding shortfall, making them unsustainable longer-term.”
The report said that to fund the gap, rates would need to increase.
Next step for the Inner West councillors is a workshop and a letter to the Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman.
They are seeking her specific commitment to paying the full cost should she agree to demerge the Council.
And they want her commitment not to sack the Council and install an administrator.
Mr Hart became acting GM here on the coast when we went into administration in October 2020 and Dick Persson was the interim administrator.
After Mr Persson bowed out six months’ later, Mr Hart became the administrator.
The Central Coast’s councillors were suspended in October 202 after the Council announced it had immediate and substantial cash flow issues.
After a public push for a judicial inquiry, the State Government held a public inquiry instead which resulted in the councillors’ positions declared vacant.
The Coast remains under administration and the Minister for Local Government has said elections will be held in September 2024 along with the regular elections across the state for councils.
An e-petition calling for earlier elections was launched in July and has so far attracted less than 700 signatures.
A push for a vote on demerging has failed to attract much attention on the Coast but the Snowy Mountains Council and the Canterbury Bankstown Council have both voted to put together a business case on the issue.
The Minister Wendy Tuckerman has recently agreed to allow Cootamundra-Gundagai Council to de-merge.