UPDATE: Last month the Local Government Association (LGA) self-reported to the Office for Public Integrity (OPI) allegations recently made by the District Council of Coober Pedy. (see original report below)The LGA has now been provided with permission by Commissioner Lander to publish that he has decided to take no further action on the primary issue identified in that report.
Spokesperson for the LGA Darren Hunter said on Thursday, “We will not be making any further comments on this matter at this time”.
One can only speculate as to whether the Coober Pedy Council will take their chances in the Supreme Court over their claim for $5,000,000 now that the Office for Public Integrity has deemed that there is no case to answer.
The $5M would certainly have helped the Council Admin make a few payments in the direction of their ‘banker’ the Local Government Finance Authority.
During 2015-16 Budget deliberations Coober Pedy ratepayers had their annual charges raised to a fairly steep 3% over three years under the Draft Business Plan of former Interim CEO Neil Brown who was struggling to keep the council and councillors out of Administration at that time. Neil Brown’s plan was that council should be able to pay back $1M per year, based on this increase and no new capital works for three years.
Sadly in the following financial year, Mr. Brown’s plan was disregarded and the ratepayers were slugged an additional 5% charge.
Over one year later, Finance Report for 30th November 2017 shows that Coober Pedy Council still owes $7,200,000 to the Local Government Finance Authority. It appears that only interest has been paid and nothing towards the principal since Neil Brown’s departure.
That financial report can be found on page 47, at the back of this agenda:
Frightening figures appear on the same report in the creditors column with money owed by DCCP for “unspecified” Goods and Services $1,032,940. An anxious community watches the steady growth of support staff at management level, and strongly suspects that public money is also being squandered on legal services that once again covers up for administrative shortcomings!
Coober Pedy Council is fast becoming an organisation with no place to turn. From the outset the new council has demonstrated an unwillingness to engage with the town’s independent media, (Coober Pedy Regional Times) and are taking steps to control their own reporting of news to the community.
Litigation has commenced against the town’s energy provider EDL, and a $5 Million legal action against their own representative body the Local Government Association has commenced. This week immediately after an industrial workers strike there are rumours of the mass resignations of the entire Water Supply Department at Council.
Whilst it is common knowledge that the council is immersed in a number of financial investigations, the Auditor General appears to be unsuccessful in extracting accountability from the DCCP.
A new behind the scenes stoush seems to have erupted with the DCCP passing a motion to send what reads as a hostile letter to the “annoying” Auditor General, Re: Accountability of Public Money.
The Motion Moved: Cr N Wayne and Seconded: Cr J Freytag reads, “That Council write to the Auditor General notifying him that the unreasonable demands made by his office has put undue stress on our limited resources causing Council to fall behind in its statutory obligations”. CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
We note that the Independent Audit Report for 2015-16 has now been completed. The community anxiously awaits the 2016-17 Independent Audit Report as we are now entering the second half of the 2017-18 reporting period.
PREVIOUSLY: DCCP ALLEGATIONS AGAINST LGA NOW WITH ICAC (published CPRT Edition 16 November 2017)
On 15 November 2017 Coober Pedy Council has announced through the InDaily Online Newspaper that they would seek compensation from the LGA (Local Government Association of SA for a minimum $5m suggesting that one of the DCCP interim CEO’s Mr. David Hitchcock a former LGA director had in effect pressured mayor Michelle Provatidis into signing the EDL Power Purchase Agreement.
You can find that article here:
The same day LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar told the Coober Pedy Regional Times, “The allegations against the LGA and David Hitchcock are completely without merit and will be vigorously defended.”
“Commissioner Lander has authorised the LGA to publish that we have self-reported these allegations to the Office for Public Integrity,” said Mr. Pinnegar.