Cost of cleaning up act

A Department of Local Government and Communities spokeswoman said the cost of the inquiry, including legal costs, salaries and administration, came in under the $2 million budget.

She said the Local Government Act stipulates the City could be required to pay the costs as the inquiry panel had made an adverse finding into the local government and the minister could order the local government to pay all or part of the costs of the inquiry.

The spokeswoman said it had not been decided if Canning would have to pay for the inquiry.

City of Canning Commissioner Linton Reynolds said in light of the Inquiry into the City of Canning report which recommended council be dismissed he predicted ratepayers would be asked to foot the bill, which he estimated to be closer to $3 million when including the City’s costs, insurance and the cost of the initial Department of Local Government investigation.

‘To take those ratepayers, who have been let down by the elected body as found by the inquiry, and then make them pay for the inquiry, is a harsh punishment,’ he said.

Mr Reynolds said the administration had made significant improvements since council was dismissed in 2012 to become a ‘model council’.

‘I very deliberately recruited Lyn Russell as chief executive because of her HR background and the fact that she would need to do a lot of work with the staff in order to put the past in the past,’ he said.

‘I am not ashamed to say that we are now as good as any other local government, if not better.’

Mr Reynolds said some of the improvements at the City included upgraded record keeping, improved relationships in the administration and with external stakeholders, and developing a set of values to work by.

He said all issues addressed in the inquiry had now been resolved, with the Centenary Avenue project the last to be addressed.

The City will prepare a response to the minister as well as address the finding that council should be dismissed.

Mr Reynolds said he would continue as the City’s commissioner if the minister asked him to, predicting that a new council would not be elected before next year when local government amalgamations are expected to be rolled out.