Amalgamated council not working: Gulaptis
By SALLY GORDON
THE Clarence Valley Council's amalgamated structure has left the organisation with critical staff shortages and an exhaustive list of uncompleted projects, according to Councillor Chris Gulaptis.
The former Maclean mayor also believes the structure of the four-in-one council is unsustainable.
"You look at the six-month review and it shows that works aren't complete, the budget is over-budget and there's holes in the organisation ... something's wrong with the structure," he said.
Cr Gulaptis' comments follow the release of a report from council's general manager Stuart McPherson which details around $1.6 million worth of uncompleted engineering work that will be rolled over into the 2006/07 financial year.
The GM's report lists a number of projects within the corporate service and community and cultural service departments that have not been completed due to delays in appointing appropriate staff.
Cr Gulaptis also said there were serious staff shortages in council's planning and engineering departments.
He believes amalgamation has left a legacy of internal strife.
"The fact that we've amalgamated and the problems associated with amalgamation makes it difficult for us to attract staff and it's probably one of the reasons why staff have left," he said. "Morale is not high and it's probably because we have got shortages. At one stage we were advised that of our contingent of 42 engineering staff we had lost 10."
Mr McPherson told councillors that management was doing everything it possibly could to fill job vacancies across the organisation.
He said the local government minister had set up a working group to examine staff shortages in local government across the State.
He said the task of filling empty positions had been an ongoing effort for the past few months.
In his report Mr McPherson also highlighted council's achievements, including progress with sewerage strategies and the integration of development control plans.