A temporary administrator will take over Wingecarribee Shire Council as councillors receive a three-month suspension.
A media release from the Minister of Local Government Shelley Hancock said the suspension followed serious concerns about the council's ability to function properly and effectively following a breakdown of relationships between councillors and senior staff.
"Under the Local Government Act, all councillors are required to work together in the best interests of the community. It is clear that the elected body of Wingecarribee Shire Council is incapable of addressing the dysfunction itself and fulfilling this important duty," she said.
Viv May PSM, who has half a century of experience in the NSW local government sector, has been appointed interim administrator.
Minister Hancock said that Viv May brought the knowledge, skills and experience to restore the proper and effective operation of the council and to ensure that the best interests of the residents were being served.
The Minister made the suspension decision after considering a submission from the council in response to a notice of intention she issued on March 3.
The suspension applies to the mayor and councillors, with the interim administrator performing their functions.
It does not affect council staff and daily operations. The interim administrator's salary will be the same as the fees paid to the suspended councillors.
Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman said she welcomed the announcement from Minister Hancock and the appointment of interim administrator Viv May.
"Mr May brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise and I am confident he will restore community confidence back into council during his period of administration," she said.
Wingecarribee Shire Councillors and Nathaniel Smith were contacted for comment.
The suspension orders were published in the NSW Government Gazette and dated March 12, 2021.
I, the Honourable Shelley Hancock MP, Minister for Local Government, do, by this order pursuant to section 438I of the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) suspend Wingecarribee Shire Council for a period of three months from the commencement of this order.
Further, pursuant to section 438M of the Act, I hereby appoint Mr Viv May PSM as interim administrator of the Council for the period during which the Council is suspended by this order. The interim administrator shall have the following functions:
To perform the role and function of the governing body of the Council under the Local Government Act and any other Act.
To exercise the role of the governing body and councillors identified in sections 223, 232 and 226 of the Local Government Act.
This order takes effect upon publication in the New South Wales Government Gazette.
Signed this 12th day of March 2021.
The Hon. Shelley Hancock, MP
Minister for Local Government