Interim GM offers some parting advice
Friday, 2nd August, 2013
By Erica Visser
Much of the financial problems at City Council could be put down to Broken Hill’s “she’ll be right” attitude, according to departing interim GM Greg Wright.
Mr Wright, who was previously the GM of Campbelltown Council, Sydney, replaced Frank Zaknich in April in the temporary position.
He will finish up today to make way for Council’s new manager, Therese Manns.
When asked about the “legacy” he had left Council in the past four months, he said it was not enough time to create a legacy but he had provided a “fresh set of eyes”.
Mr Wright agreed that Council’s financial problems should have been confronted years ago, but said it was the local mentality to “ride it out”.
“Some of the issues that haven’t been dealt with are ones where people have said, to be honest, ‘let’s ride it out, it’ll be right in the end,’” he said.
“Council is basically a reflection of the community.”
Included is the issue of local mines paying too much in rates, which Council admitted it had known for years.
Residents and business owners have now taken over an extra six per cent, or $875,000, of the rate base, causing a backlash against Council.
Mr Wright said that many difficult decisions such as this would need to be made soon and it was hoped that the community could work with Council.
However, he admitted that the relationship between the two was sometimes troubled.
Mr Wright said that there was a particular problem with a sector of the community who were not addressing their grievances in a respectful manner.
“I do think the way some residents in Council’s public gallery act is inappropriate,” he said.
“I think last night, again, was not acceptable and people in the gallery were not respectful.
“The role of Council is a tough one and the (Local Government) Act actually doesn’t allow for the public to take part (in the meetings).
“I do think people need to respect that. I think the idea of public forum is a great thing, but if I had my way it would only be held at the start of meetings.”
Mr Wright said that Council’s reliance on committees and long reports was also inefficient.
At his past Council, there were no committees and general meetings were held fortnightly rather than monthly.
“I do think the whole report agenda and the committee reports could be improved a lot,” Mr Wright said.
“I think a lot of the ways things are operated could be changed. Instead of reports, keeping councillors up to date using web-based information.”
Mr Wright, whose wife is still in Sydney, said that it was time for him to move on although he had grown fond of the Silver City.
“I’d be happy to come back if people have something interesting they’d like me to help with, but I like to keep moving.”
Mr Wright’s next task is to help two urban NSW councils consider an amalgamation.