By the Contrarian July 31 2017
The former chairperson of Coffs Harbour CBD Masterplan Committer, representing those CBD Business ratepayers who agreed to pay a special rate variation (SRV) to the Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC), resigned recently because he believed the CHCC was reneging on an agreement that was outlined and written up in Council Minutes, associated Terms of Reference and other supporting paperwork.
Rod McKelvey, a former councillor and deputy Mayor makes it clear in his resignation letter to the CHCC he believes the Council has got in the way of the CBD Masterplan Committee, re-written agreed Terms of Reference and believes it can “do whatever it wants with the SRV money.” In his resignation letter he cites a CHCC employee at a CBD Masterplan Committee meeting in late 2016 saying, “It’s our money (Council’s) and we can spend it on whatever we want, we don’t need your permission.”
In essence, and I am paraphrasing here, Mr McKelvey resigned because he had serious doubts about whether the CHCC can be trusted ‘to honour it’s word’ and to act with probity at least in relation to the SRV and Council’s agreement with the CBD Masterplan Committee.
Let that sink in for a minute.
It doesn’t get much more problematic than that at a local government level really other than corruption , which is not being alleged in this article. Complaints from other SRV payers and some CBD Masterplan Committee members lead to the Member of Coffs Harbour, Mr Andrew Fraser, making a statement in the NSW Parliament on the matter. Mr Fraser’s statement on 17th March last, direct from a link to Hansard, was published here in Coffs Outlook on 22nd May last wherein he mentions issues raised by John Rafferty, the CEO of C-ex about the CHCC and dissatisfaction with Council’s actions, attitude and responses to the CBD Masterplan Committee and also their overall management of the SRV. Mr Fraser cites a letter from Mr Rafferty whereby Mr Rafferty says: “Clearly what’s happening now is not what they (the SRV ratepayers} agreed to. Central to the investigation of an extension to the SRV was that CBD landowners (the special ratepayers) would have a majority of votes on the Committee so that no expenditure could be made without their explicit minuted approval. That was the deal maker. All of the discussion about establishing an extension to the special rate focused on that critical point. They did not want a situation where Council controlled the decision-making (my emphasis}.
Those paying the SRV are very disappointed that the agreed Terms of Reference can also be re-written at any time. And I think that goes to the heart of the issue, in that Council has assumed control of the Master funds.