Council remains proactive on sustainability

Published on 10 January 2022

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Kiama Council CEO Jane Stroud said she welcomes the opportunity to work with newly-elected Councillors from tomorrow. She responded to recent media reports on Council's financial sustainability by reassuring the community she will continue to be honest and transparent about the challenges the organisation faces as it moves forward.

“It’s a positive sign that, just like the last elected Council, our incoming Councillors are already showing their eagerness to help shape the strategic choices that are needed for our Council’s ongoing sustainability,” she said.

“I am looking forward to welcoming all the new Council tomorrow, including returning and new Councillors, and giving them a comprehensive briefing on the state of the organisation. That briefing will build on many reports, briefings and communications that the previous Council had on aspects of the business that do need attention. I am also anticipating that the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor, who will be elected tomorrow, will play a pivotal leadership role as we address strategic matters”.

“From the time I took up my role in June 2021, I’ve been listening to concerns, assessing all aspects of the business and taking a wide range of actions to correct issues, keep our organisation sustainable and focus on future improvements. Many of the matters raised today by a Councillor-elect are well in hand with work already ongoing, including a resolution dating back to 17 August 2021 to create a Finance Advisory Committee to undertake retrospective financial analysis of key investment decisions.”

Ms Stroud reaffirmed her commitment to keeping the community and Council staff informed about progress in addressing financial and operational issues, noting that there is always more work to be done.

“I do recognise that there are challenges in terms of service levels, financial sustainability, and operations, and I have been honest about this since day one, with the previous Council, our staff and our community. Many councils face financial pressure and our organisation has additional complexity as we also run an aged care business, Blue Haven Illawarra. There is also much to be positive about and I’m excited to be able to share a lot of the proactive and innovative things that we are doing as an organisation with the new Council as well.”

“Speaking frankly, I would summarise the challenges that the business faces as financial sustainability, organisational capability and governance. All challenges bring opportunities; what is more interesting to me is how the new Council, myself, Council staff and committees work together to find solutions.”

“To date, I have engaged closely with the previous Councillors, the community, our staff, and of course with the State Government and our key stakeholders like the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee and the Blue Haven Board, and it is simply not correct to assert that information has been withheld or proactive steps have not been taken. The residents and staff of KMC can depend on me to continue to be open and transparent about the business and its sustainability, as that’s very important to me”.

Kiama’s newly-elected Councillors will be sworn in tomorrow (Tuesday 11 January), followed by a series of briefings on issues impacting Council and its aged care business, Blue Haven Illawarra, and on its general ledger for local government services.

“The formal swearing-in of our new Councillors heralds an exciting opportunity for our elected body to bring their own ideas, diverse views, and experience to agree on strategic approaches to our business, so that our efforts and resources can be directed where they are most needed.”

“I want to reassure our staff, volunteers and the members of our community who are passionate about their local government authority, that we continually work hard to resolve any issues that impact upon the business as they are discovered. And that we will continue to make sure that strategic improvements and priorities will be shared with the public,” said Ms Stroud.

“Right now, I am focused on getting on with business, running our organisation during an ongoing pandemic and onboarding a new Council properly, so that constructive working relationships can be forged and any challenges resolved collectively”. 

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