WANGARATTA Council’s fate has moved closer to flashpoint with a special meeting called for tonight under emergency provisions.
The secret meeting will discuss workplace health and safety and staffing as the Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell sits poised to recommend whether the council is sacked or not.
Discussion will centre on a report compiled by the Zalt Group which was engaged in March to investigate allegations of staff bullying by Cr Julian Fidge.
Arrangements whereby the council has engaged an acting chief executive Kelvin Spiller and directors Peter Mangan, Peter Godfrey and Patti Wenn will also be raised.
The only member of the council management team not on stress leave, Andrew Close, hasn’t attended a council meeting since chief executive Doug Sharp went on leave in early June.
Mr Sharp’s absence and the resignation of Cr Lisa McInerney prompted Mrs Powell to appoint a municipal inspector, Peter Stephenson, to Wangaratta.
The minister has been in possession of Mr Stephenson’s final report for more than a week.
At no stage during his three-month stay in Wangaratta has Mr Stephenson witnessed first-hand the fractured relationship between Cr Fidge and Mr Sharp and directors Ray Park and Ruth Tai.
Mr Park, Ms Tai, Mr Close and economic development manager Graham Nickless, who is also on leave, have faced off with Cr Fidge at a Fair Work Commission hearing.
The acting arrangements is costing ratepayers an estimated $25,000 per week and are contributing to a potential final bill of $1.5 million.
Mayor Rozi Parisotto called the special meeting on Tuesday under emergency provisions which short-circuits the traditional seven-day notice period.
An explanation of the reasons why the meeting was called will be included in the minutes of the next council meeting.
But the minister is expected to announce her decision well before the next meeting in mid-September.
The council will be under pressure to release details of the meeting.