Illawarra Newsroom

New Councillor wants forensic financial audit of Kiama Council

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A newly elected Kiama councillor won't be supporting any incumbent councillor for the role of Mayor or Deputy Mayor in tomorrow's vote.

Mark Croxford said Kiama Council is at serious risk of ministerial suspension and the appointment of an administrator because of financial issues under the previous leadership.

"These matters were hidden from the public during the last Council election.

"This was an outrageous cover-up and our local residents have every right to know the true financial sustainability of our Council," Croxford said.

He said he will be asking his fellow councillors to elect a fresh leadership team with no baggage.

"Should any re-elected councillors nominate for either leadership role I will not be voting for them, and if necessary abstain from any vote involving them at this time.

"If by my abstaining from the mayoral vote the vote is tied at four all it would require a name to drawn by ballot, e.g.out of a hat, as prescribed under the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 (NSW) Schedule 7, Section 11," he said.

"Once a new Mayor and deputy are elected, regardless of what position I have within the Chamber, I will move for an extraordinary meeting of council to be scheduled at the first available opportunity to:

a) Move a Notice of Motion instructing Council's CEO to initiate an external forensic audit of council's finances covering the sixty-three (63) month period of the previous council, to determine why Kiama Council is potentially vulnerable to ministerial suspension and any recommendations arising, with the findings of the forensic audit to be made available to the public once considered by Council, and

b) As part of this motion, I will seek council's support to instruct the Council's CEO to prepare a report for councillors consideration to approve new terms of reference of the recently appointed Finance Advisory Committee to enable the committee to:

* Review Council's Long Term Financial Plan and strategies that deliver financial objectives to Council

* Develop and review action plans aimed at delivering financial performance

* Review service levels ensuring sustainable resourcing

* Review and monitor Council's financial performance

* Review and investigate opportunities proposed by Council officers or other committee members," Croxford said.

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In 2016 Kiama Council avoided council amalgamation with Shoalhaven City through a grassroots campaign which resulted in more than 95 per cent of 8,400 people voting to reject amalgamation at a cost of $120,000 to ratepayers.

Later in 2016 the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal deemed the Kiama Council was Fit For The Future after previously determining in October 2015 that Kiama had failed to meet four of the seven Long Term Financial Plan benchmarks it had set for councils.

"Since 2016 something has gone seriously wrong with the financial management of Kiama Council and we need to get to the bottom of it and chart of course for correction before the matter is taken out of Council's control and handed over to a NSW Government appointed administrator," Croxford said.

Images: Mark Croxford Facebook and Google Maps