I refer to L Roebuck’s correspondence and provide the following comment in response to the allegations made.
1. Employees: Alleged termination of multiple employees to reduce costs. This is not correct. Since 1st June 2017, 4 employees have been terminated for the following reasons: a. Two for misconduct; b. One for theft of property which was admitted, and; c. One who lost their drivers licence resulting from a PCA prosecution. The licence was necessary for that person’s position.
Of the two that were terminated for misconduct, no material payments have been paid to those parties. LGNSW assists Councils in these matters at no charge and additional legal support has incurred minimal cost. 2. Developers and Development: Contrary to L. Roebuck’s view, there is no shortage of land zoned commercial/industrial, rather a lack of demand. Some commercial/industrial land is used currently for other purposes and other relevant land is available for renewal purposes.
In reviewing zoning and land supply, Council must also consider the demand for land generated by the market place. Demand levels as measured through development enquiry or application have not substantially changed since 2014. Council has recognised that where demand is not well established, as is the case in the Lithgow market, it may therefore be necessary for Council, subject to normal due diligence, to take a more active role and enter into the market by purchasing and developing land within the appropriately zoned locations. To this end, funds have been reserved and a property agent engaged.
3. Rates and Accountability: Council’s current administrative executive management group by majority, was not employed by Council when: the NSW Office of Local Government (OLG) issued a formal notice to Council to improve its Financial Performance in December 2016; NSW TCorp and the Office of Local Government determined that Lithgow Council was not financially fit for the future in 2016; the necessity for an SRV to occur in 2019 was identified by consultants Morrison Low and accepted as a strategy by the OLG; the necessity for a Special Rate Variation was first reported in the Lithgow Mercury on the 1st August 2016; the fifth successive annual operational loss was incurred in 2016/17; an independent Audit of Council’s water supplies revealed that it could not account for 30% of the water used. Not withstanding that the majority of the senior management team were not in Council’s employ at the time of the above, L Roebuck holds these new employees responsible for the decisions, events and associated impacts of others.
4. Strategic Planning: L. Roebuck conveniently overlooks the Strategic plans formulated by this Council in partnership with: The NSW Dept of Premier and Cabinet re Lithgow’s Economic Development Strategy (REDS) completed in 2018; The NSW Dept of Industry and Public Works re the 30 year strategic demand driven Integrated Water Management; Catchment Plan (IWCP) which is currently in progress; Morrison Low and OLG in 2016 which developed the strategic long term financial plan that identified Council’s future financial difficulties.
Council management fully understands the challenges that present to the Lithgow Council and its Community and acknowledges Council’s right to alter its management composition at any time through lawful resolution.
Lithgow City Council general manager