Thirteen of the 15 Central Coast Councillors were sacked on March 17, 2022 – a year ago today.
Two had already resigned.
But the Central Coast has been without councillors since October 30, 2020, when they were suspended.
Elections for a new crop of councillors is scheduled to be held in September 2024 so we will be almost four years without councillors.
We have had two administrators since the suspensions; Dick Persson for about six months and now Rik Hart who replaced him in April 2021.
Mr Hart has presided over Council since then; including while we had the public inquiry into the financial crisis that resulted in the councillors’ sacking.
As I wrote at the time, the Commissioner of the public inquiry found no smoking gun for the financial problems; but said the councillors were ultimately responsible despite staff failures.
The Council was formed in May 2016, the result of a merger of Wyong and Gosford local government areas.
It started life with a debt of $317M.
In early October 2020, the council had a sudden and significant cash flow problem.
The financial crisis, as explained by Mr Persson, was the result of too many deficit budgets since 2018 and no plan to improve the bottom line.
He forecast a huge debt when he was 30 days into the role but it was only a forecast and by February 2021, the council debt was $458M.
Recently, Mr Hart and CEO David Farmer, who came on board in April 2021, have – time and again – announced the financial crisis is over.
Residents have endured rate hikes, water rate hikes, sales of community owned land, staff restructures and cuts to staff numbers; just to name a few of the changes that have led to the crisis being over.