Dubbo councillors have unanimously agreed to bring an independent investigator into the organisation.
The decision was made at Monday night's Dubbo Regional Council meeting, following a motion by deputy mayor Stephen Lawrence for an independent investigator to look into whether the organisation has been compliant with its legal and regulatory obligations.
However, the decision has been made without council knowing how much the investigator will cost. The information will come to light after council speaks to Local Government NSW.
About $75,000 is being spent looking into recent Code of Conduct complaints, according to acting chief executive officer Dean Frost.
"Given the current challenges faced in the draft 2021/22 budget and forward budgets, there will be a need to fund this either by adjusting projects, or [seeing] a slight reduction in existing services," Mr Frost wrote in the quarterly budget review report.
ALSO MAKING NEWS:
Councillor Dayne Gumley said the councillors were "as one" when it came to wanting an investigator to be appointed. He said the community should be reassured that council was taking action.
"Await the appointment of the investigator, await the investigation, await the findings of the investigation and then I would encourage the community to come to a position that is reasonable, informed, and civilised," Mr Gumley said.
"This council will do the work that needs to be done to ensure the community can have confidence in its elected members and the staff that make it up."
It should be a "fairly quick process" to find out if council had failed to meet any of its legal and regulatory obligations, Cr Lawrence said.
He called for defensiveness to be put aside.
"... We need to be proactive and in my view we need to hire a very well qualified person... perhaps with a background in policing or investigations... to come in and to conduct those interview processes and to put a spotlight through the organisation," Cr Lawrence said.
Mayor Ben Shields said it was "only fair" to bring in an outside investigator as council was a public organisation that needed to be truly accountable.
The investigator will be appointed by Local Government NSW.
According to the recommendation passed by council, they will audit past code of conduct complaints over the term of council to ascertain that the processes that were adopted complied with the relevant code of conduct processes.
The recommendation also called for the investigator to "interview all councillors, all directors and other staff and community members as they see fit" before reporting back to council in July - or later if decided the councillors - to determine whether council has been "compliant with its legal and regulatory obligations and to report on any systemic issues arising from the investigations".
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: