More than $115,000 has been spent on seven audits into Wingecarribee Shire Council since March 2021.
Mr May revealed the costs of the audits at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on Wednesday, September 8.
"It is advised that $115,022.96 has been expended by the council on audits/reviews initiated by me and made publicly available," he said.
"In my view, this has been ratepayer's money very well spent and is broken down. I note that the report of Mr Norm Smith has only been commissioned.
"The rebuild of Wingecarribee Shire Council is well underway and the Public Inquiry can only add value to that process helping to ensure that the community has a council that is serving its best interests"
Mr May also brought attention to the "unfounded" rumours that the public inquiry would cost ratepayers more than $1 million and delay the elections.
"The length of the Inquiry is a matter for the commissioner and obviously the council will have its costs but in normal circumstances, direct costs are borne by the government," he said.
"However, s438v of the Local Government Act provides that the Office of Local Government may recover the reasonable expenses incurred by the state in holding a Public Inquiry if the inquiry relates to a reoccurring problem within the administration of the council.
"This can include previous ministerial intervention such as the issue of a Performance Improvement Order and as residents are well aware the actions of the minister in this regard failed.
"When more is known as to how the commissioner intends to conduct the Inquiry I have asked the general manager to provide a further report."
The Southern Highland News has previously asked Wingecarribee Shire Council to provide a list of costs incurred under the administration. They were:
- How much money has been spent on staff redundancies?
- How many positions are vacant in Wingecarribee Shire Council?
- How many of those positions have been filled and how long does it take to fill those positions?
- How many consultations have taken place since the council was suspended?
- What has been the cost of these consultations?
- How much of these expenses have been budgeted for?
- Have the three new directors been accounted for in the budget?
- What is the breakdown of staff lost? i.e. how many senior staff, how many contracted staff, customer service staff?
- Will these expenses be tabled?
A joint reply from general manager Lisa Miscamble and acting deputy manager Marissa Racomelara said that the council had been working through a period of immense change.
"While there have been a number of departures over the previous 12 months, these have not exceeded the numbers for previous years," they said.
"Indeed, in an organisation as big as Wingecarribee Shire Council, turnover benchmarks hover between 12 and 15 per cent annually.
"All reviews undertaken by the organisation are currently listed on our website at https://www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/Council/Administrator#section-5."
They also said the council maintained a focus on improving service delivery for the local community.
"While reviews do require investment, we believe that enhanced outcomes are worthy of such investment and we maintain budget for allocations for service delivery improvement and business transformation," they said.
"The action taken in response to reviews is made available to the council and the community via council reports and this includes the annual Operating Budget.
"The council is currently completing our year-end processes and expects to deliver our financial statements for the 2020-21 financial year in October."
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