Wangaratta Council's crisis costs keep on rising

PAYOUTS to former Wangaratta Council senior staff, including chief executive Doug Sharp, have accounted for almost half of the revised $2 million cost of last year’s governance crisis.

The former council agreed to pay the management team a combined $820,000 in the lead-up to when it was sacked last September, with the cost of their temporary replacements also helping push the figure towards the $2 million mark.

The figure was included in the 2014-15 draft budget tabled this week.

Administrator chief Ailsa Fox confirmed the bills associated with the crisis were still coming in and included a recent $50,000 increase in WorkCover premiums.

The council’s former senior managers went on extended sick leave last May and their temporary replacements cost $620,000.

Most of the costs were incurred in the 2013-14 financial year, but expenditure on director relief, a probity audit, conducted by Bill Scales, and councillor conduct panel have cost $338,000 during the previous financial year.

A secondary councillor conduct panel in 2013-14 cost $40,000, with legal fees of close to $200,000 and $2000 spent on mediation between former councillors Julian Fidge and Tammy Atkins.

The council also had to wear the cost for an election countback when Lisa McInerney resigned and was replaced by Col McClounan.

The aforementioned costs alone, excluding the WorkCover premiums, add up to more than $2 million.

Costs associated with the council crisis have helped the council to a $1.9 million deficit at the end of the 2013-14 financial year.

But the council is forecasting a surplus of $4 million at the end of 2014-15.

Administrators Mrs Fox, Irene Grant and Rodney Roscholler are in charge until the 2016 elections.

They are being paid a combined $246,000 per year, with Mrs Fox receiving $125,000.

The senior management team has been replaced by chief executive Brendan McGrath and four directors, Alan Clark, Barry Green, Ruth Kneebone and Jaime Carroll.

The council had three directors and an executive manager for economic development.