Council narrowly avoids financial shutdown
Central Coast Council narrowly avoided a Washington-style financial shut down when several councillors moved to reject the council's 2018-19 budget.
Local councillor Troy Marquart was among those councillors, speaking in favour deferring the budget to have it amended.
Cr Marquart said his major concern was the $64,000 surplus which he described as "wafer thin".
"I personally would not be able to vote for the budget the way it stands tonight, I would be terrified that we only had a $64,000 surplus," Cr Marquart said.
Several councillors from northern wards said Gosford West had received $38 million in capital projects in comparison with the $17 million being spent in the Budgewoi Ward.
Mayor Cr Jane Smith said the Local Government Act stated that a budget had to be in place by the first day of the financial year, within a week of the meeting.
Acting general manager Mr Brian Glendenning said a proposal to defer the budget was unlawful and the mayor had a legal obligation to strike it out.
Mr Glendenning said in order to be lawful, an amended budget needed to be presented to the councillors before June 30.
Mr Glendenning said workshops and briefings provided by staff to councillors had been extensive "quite deliberately, because staff realised that this was the first budget of this size to be considered by a council of 15.
"It is true there are issues perceived by some councillors about equity between wards, but if that is the main reason for councillors not accepting this budget, I cannot recall an instance when a council has done that before.
"You would be making history," Mr Glendenning said.
"I can't advise strongly enough that Council needs to adopt an operational plan prior to June 30, otherwise Council would not be able to function from July 1," he said.
He also reminded councillors that their oath and the Local Government Act required them to serve the interests of the whole local government area and not just a single ward.
In response to Mr Glendenning's advice, deputy mayor Cr Chris Holstein said: "Don't give the government a reason to say 'Right, Central Coast Council, you can't even act on your own budget, move on'."
"Whilst there are aspects of the motion I have some reservations with, it does move us forward," Cr Holstein said.
"I have really got to wonder if some of the motivation here is 'I don't like the amalgamation or I don't like the ward system' so they turn the whole thing upside down and who wins then?" he said.
The proposal to defer the budget until it could be reworked was defeated and the budget was narrowly passed with amendments.
Agenda item 2.1, 25 Jun 2018
Central Coast Council ordinary meeting
Reporter: Jackie Pearson