LOCAL Government Minister Jeanette Powell has given an assurance the final report that will make or break Wangaratta Council will be made public.
The promise to reveal the contents of municipal inspector Peter Stephenson’s findings from his three-month secondment to Wangaratta could be interpreted as a positive sign the council will avoid the axe.
Mrs Powell has also raised the spectre of a legal minefield depending on the final outcome.
Mr Stephenson is due to hand her his final report and recommendations any day.
The minister has previously stated grounds for dismissal include failure to pass a budget and four-year plan or corruption within the council.
The council has passed its four-year plan and there is no evidence of corruption.
It is due to pass its budget in coming weeks.
The biggest unresolved issue is the relationship between Cr Julian Fidge and senior staff members including chief executive Doug Sharp.
Mr Sharp and Ray Park, Ruth Tai and Graham Nickless have been on stress-related leave for either the entirety or a large percentage of Mr Stephenson’s appointment in Wangaratta.
Mrs Powell said the fate of the senior staff would be a heavy consideration in her final decision.
“They will be making their decisions about their plans in the near future as well,” she said.
“When that happens there is going to be a time of uncertainty as well.
“Not only for the rest of the staff, but also the councillors.
“I have to abide by my powers under the Local Government Act and make sure those that need natural justice, have natural justice and we don’t end up in the courts for a long period of time where people are appealing decisions made.”
Mrs Powell said previous reports by the inspector have included details of community feedback and talks with councillors.
“Whatever the outcome is, it won’t be able to happen overnight,” she said.
“I need to make sure he is there even if his recommendation is to put administrators in.
“You don’t find administrators overnight.”
She conceded there had been an improvement in the council, but more was required.
“It is up to them to provide the leadership and governance the community needs,” she said.
“The community has every right to believe the councillors they have elected are working in their community’s best interests, not in-fighting and working in their own interests.
“The community is sick of it.”