How an administrator heading council works

The fate of Blue Mountains elected councillors lies in the hands of the minister for local government, Gabrielle Upton.

After she receives council’s submission on why it should not be suspended (which should be on Wednesday morning), she will consider her next move.

She can suspend if she “reasonably believes that the appointment of an interim administrator is necessary to restore the proper or effective functioning of the council”, according to the legislation.

If she decides to go down that path, Ms Upton will appoint an interim administrator, initially for a period of three months.

All councillors will be suspended from office and the administrator will assume their roles, and the role of the mayor. Suspended councillors will not be entitled to exercise their usual functions, to use council facilities or to receive any fee or other remuneration.

A spokesman from the Office of Local Government, which would monitor any suspension, said: “Where an administrator is appointed to a council, they step into the role of the governing body of the council and exercise the functions of the mayor and councillors.

“All other functions of the council (eg DA assessment) continue to be exercised by the staff and other delegates of the council.”

After the three months, the interim administrator, who will be paid a salary by council, must report on his or her administration, including any recommendations about improving or restoring effective functioning.

If it is deemed necessary, the minister can extend the administration period by another three months.

The mayor, Mark Greenhill, in a statement issued after Friday night’s meeting, said: “We have taken every opportunity to improve the standard of our procedures and practices. We have made every commitment to fix problems and learn from our mistakes.

“I consider this proposal to suspend the council as unnecessary. 

“If the Blue Mountains City Council is being considered for suspension when hundreds of improvement notices are issued annually to other councils across NSW surely this would set an untenable precedent.”

Cr Greenhill also said he was heartened by community support for the elected councillors.

“The community accepts that the council has a serious challenge on its hands to manage asbestos, as do all councils in NSW. It accepts that the council is doing everything it can to address the issues. 

“What the community does not accept is the removal of a democratically elected council that is doing everything asked of them to manage asbestos and more.”