Two reports made public have highlighted several governance shortcomings in Wingecarribee Shire Council.
Interim administrator Viv May PSM said that an independent report on the council's financial position and governance, human resource and statutory obligation audit had been received at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on May 12.
"While no concerns are flagged concerning Council's general financial position, both reports highlight governance shortcomings and recommendations that must be addressed," he said.
"The finance report confirmed my concerns that councillor briefings, workshops and advisory committees may have, on some occasions, taken informal decisions that have been acted on by the staff.
"The use of such is of course totally unacceptable and unlawful and could be said to be de facto council meetings."
Mr May said that advisory committees were now open to the public. He also said the report concerning development issues was delayed.
"The consultant's report relating to development issues is still being prepared by virtue of the large number of residents who have approached the council for an independent hearing," he said.
"This is an important action in the restoration of public confidence in the council. The consultant has already raised with me concerns with the view of some applicants and objectors that they feel they need to engage professional advisors to navigate the complexity of the council's planning and DA processes.
"This is unfortunate and will be addressed."
Mr May said he was concerned over the influence of former council employees when it came to development applications.
"I propose to write to the Office of Local Government suggesting that the Model Contract for the Employment of Senior Staff be amended to prohibit the alleged influence of such action," he said.
"I have asked the acting general manager to urgently prepare an amendment to the council's Code of Conduct to also address the issue."
Mr May said a lot was happening at the operational level of the council.
"The acting general manager continues to address a myriad of issues including a deterioration of work, health and safety issues which we believe in some areas has led to a toxic culture," he said.
"Employees should be valued and treated with respect.
"Hopefully with the imminent appointment of a new general manager, this work will be accelerated over the coming weeks and I will continue to share with the community as best I can."
The review and report on council finances were done by Finch Consulting. The report on the governance, human resources and statutory reporting was authored by Samantha Charlton.
Both reports can be found on the Wingecarribee Shire Council website.
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