Port Stephens Council has no money for roadworks

Port Stephens Council has no money for roadworks and its financial situation is ‘‘dire’’, councillors said last night.

The council voted to begin restructuring and scrap two senior management positions.

But several councillors said that did not go far enough.

Cr Geoff Dingle pushed unsuccessfully for the council to immediately cut one of its four departments.

‘‘If we don’t make some dramatic changes soon, there’ll be nothing,’’ Cr Dingle said.

‘‘We heard our financial report earlier tonight and things are quite bad.’’

Cr Dingle also said that the council’s general manager, Peter Gesling, told councillors he wished he hadn’t expanded from three departments to four about two years ago.

Mr Gesling’s report to councillors said that ‘‘council is not able to continue to provide its current range or level of service’’.

Cr Dingle said he wanted an independent consultant to oversee the restructuring.

Former mayor Bruce MacKenzie did not support Cr Dingle’s motion, but described the restructuring as ‘‘pussy footing’’.

He said the council’s outdoor staff did not have any money to complete works, and that the council should cut other services to fund road and other works.

‘‘We’ve got all these people and no money to spend. If I ran by business that way, I’d go broke,’’ Cr MacKenzie said.

‘‘All [the money] is getting spent on all this airy-fairy Santa Claus stuff.

‘‘There are staff out there that are doing things that aren’t relevant.’’

Mayor Bob Westbury said he would not ‘‘slash and burn’’ services.

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