Council settles long running, costly waste management cases

The minutes of the Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) Extraordinary Meeting of yesterday, Monday 27 September , published below reveal that Council will enter into Deeds of Variation with Nambucca Valley and Bellingen Councils, essentially ‘a write off’ of $1.2 million in relation to those cases.

By The Editor

The minutes also reveal that the Coffs Harbour City Council agrees to a non disclosed amount of settlement with Biomass Solutions ( Coffs Harbour) Pty Ltd.

At this stage there are now two more CHCC Council meeting dates scheduled before the Council enters Caretaker Mode on November 4. 14 October and 28 October.


CCO editorial comment:

It is hard to believe that the CHCC has emerged from this in any way as a winner when all legal costs, the above settlements and 18 months of MWOOF cartage costs are taken into account.

We also note no settlement has been specified for HandyBin Ltd, the longest running of these waste management cases that council has been involved in. It is possible though the Biomass settlement could encompass that case.

What has not been disputed by the CHCC though is that they did not fare well in regards to the adjudicator’s decisions in the waste management cases. Arbitration decisions we understand that, contrary to most arbitration decisions, the CHCC has not agreed to allow be released publicly.

For example this CCO report has not been disputed;

You’d have to ask yourself why that would be the case.

We know that it was estimated that trucking waste to Tamworth or similar until late 2027 as per the term of the contract could cost in the vicinity of $27m.

This CCO article relates to what Council spent on the Handybin and Biomass cases over roughly three years;

And has Council management responded to all asked for in NOM21/17 Summary of Actions Relating to Waste Management in the Coffs Harbour LGA moved by Councillors Townley and Swan on 22 July last? See;

There is much about this all that doesn’t smell right. Pun 100% intended.

We believe the new Council, as part of any independent audit, should look into the actions, communications and strategies of CHCC representatives in regards to these waste management cases as a matter of urgency.

9 thoughts on “Council settles long running, costly waste management cases

  1. The Waste issue is of heightened importance because it is a matter that could not be glossed up with PR. Unless, of course, it showed high achievement, then you’d hear all about it. You can see here then, clearly illustrated, the ‘quality’ of your general manager in a hands-on revelation. With the actual Waste problem not solved.

    A general manager from a higher population (not Singleton c16,500 or cYoung 1500) would in my opinion have identified Waste as an immediate concern to attend hands-on, so too would a general manager of quality skills other than being a smooth talker.

    We are coming into the start again of election mode now. As we look at candidates, existing and new and those to present, the issue of whether they wish to continue, change or stop the former-CCS is, I believe, going to be central to whether they are elected or not.

    Those wishing to maintain the project, believing that public sentiment will change once it’s built, need to think about this person; the citizen in the street: Who looks at it, driving or walking past, or thinks of it through promoted art exhibition or library activity, anytime it moves into mind. The person who thinks:

    Steve McGrath is sitting on top of that. Wanting to be higher than any general manager in NSW. Overlording the community he tore apart, saying nothing, showing no care for the destruction he caused. Instead, he expected everyone to go into debt to – reward – him by putting him up there.

    That’s just about everyone, isn’t it? Public sentiment could well change about that building. It could even be hated with escalated severity. This hatred and communal destruction will not go away, ever-present for the lifetime of the place.

    It is time to get serious with this bloke in my view.

    If you’ve followed the way Steve McGrath operates, and come to the conclusion or just the hint of a suspicion that we may have a bit of a “swindler” in our midst, you can be forgiven.

    His contract is up for renewal next year requiring certain months of notices, so the question now is whether he can follow the letter of the law and write to the current Mayor for its renewal, given the delays which mean the new council won’t be onboarded until further into the new year. What I see as a shaken and belted-up, weak, current governing body outfit will, guaranteed, vote for him to remain.

    Coffs Harbour has to face this issue. If Steve McGrath’s contract arises, before the caretaker period which is when time-wise it may have to be dealt with, or could be followed by the letter-of-law to be dealt with. But let’s agree it’s time to unleash merry hell on the governing body to stop it.

    1. Call me cynical, but I imagine the GM’s contract renewal will be ready to be voted on by councillors before the junta is dissolved on 4 November, so the mayor can take pleasure in exercising her casting vote just one more time.

      No doubt they’ve been aware for some time that there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that incoming councillors would want to retain the present incumbent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if reappointment formalities such as notice of intention to reapply and performance criteria evaluations may have already been cobbled together, or waived.

      1. Gamboling not alone in mind when I wrote that was ‘the motion put by Cr Knight seconded by Cr Amos, no discussion, carried unanimously’. Far from cynical, yours, CLB. Right on point.

        The main thing is awareness so there’s context into which it thumps, and people can prepare in case. If it does come, this one is not actually a ploy by Steve McGrath. He wants to renew his contract and this is how the law would therefore have the procedure.

        Back on Waste. It’s also a ‘local government basic’. Massacring it.

        With respect and gratitude I’d contend that Coffs Coast Outlook was the cause and then instrumental in this council resolution. It was a carefully prepared CCO article that laid out the legal costs, along with central and surrounding issues. The response to the tabled issue was a thorough hammering. From a Councillor: nothing came. Then another article expanded on the matter. Those points, too, hammered to blazes.

        The caustic legal costs because of that were then widely in public knowledge, with remarks finding their way into public discussion unprompted. A Councillor really had to respond, then did: the non-action on such severity was beyond ridiculous.

        Now here the result.

        I’d also contend that Steve McGrath would have continued, if not preferred, to sit there in private writing those cheques and not deal with it hands-on, with no one the wiser for the cost. He had to be alerted that such severe costs are concerning. Then, in fact, the need to go and have a talk was an avenue that had to be put to him in chambers, and the need to resolve the matter outside of palming to lawyers more or less forced upon him.

        Which leads to the point of needing the fourth estate and the value of it. No other local media was capable of doing it, to put it mildly, I think, and we could do well to pause and acknowledge this achievement — and the possible and likely millions the community saved in the face of that torrential spend.

        Tips o’ the hat to you, CCO.

        Editor: Why thank you – much appreciated 😉

        1. Absolutely correct I also tip’s me hat to CCO’ it took your well laid out story with costs and all to get Steve McGrath kicking and screaming to come from behind his desk and lawyers to settle this overdue ongoing problem.
          Please keep up this great work we the ratepayers badly need this exposure for our comments too long have we all been treated as mushrooms.
          Thank You.

          1. Again, kudos to CCO. There’s a quote applicable here, about evil flourishing when good men (and women) do (or say) nothing. With investigations sparked primarily by the CCS fiasco and the extraordinary behaviour of Knight and Company, the Coffs community is now well-served by very clever people who will do and say what needs to be done and said, and CCO provides an excellent forum for that action.

            If I were a councillor or council official whose hands were even the slightest bit soiled, I’d be very apprehensive about the potential for a new council to find all of the dirty laundry, and to wash it publicly. There is a forensic nature to the current commentary on council mismanagement which is almost frightening.

    2. 40cm; I think it’s terrible for you to mock our GM Steve McGrath in such light terms when this Tw*t – (Twit – someone who is regarded as contemptible according to the dictionary) deserves so much more illustration.

      Bio. The boy from Wagga Wagga
      : (This tale may or may not be based on fact. Comments below in brackets and/or italics represent my views and opinions only)

      “Steve has substantial experience in the local government sector, including 24 years as a General Manager (CEO) at Young (Commencing January 1991 aged c.31 as Shire Clerk but rising to become General Manager. There his popularity scored high among a teensy-weensy group), then Singleton before Coffs Harbour.

      Prior to Harbour City Council, Steve held the position (for a brief 2-year period) of NSW Manager of Morrison Low Consultants, a position that involved, amongst other services, delivering capacity (liquid?) building projects (local public urinals perhaps) with local government clients in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. (Wow! Wide-spread continental success everywhere in such a short time frame).

      Steve’s career in local government is characterised by a strong emphasis on change management (Yes,small change for Local Constituents) and the implementation of an outcome focus for organisations – (must have used odd lenses). He has developed a well rounded (…a person plump or curvaceous) understanding of local government systems and governance and applies these skills in the form of evaluation, strategic planning and guidance (not forgetting dismissals of those not quite in-line with his ideology ?) for the councils of which he has worked with (especially during the 8 years at Singleton where he excelled at forming special relationships whilst learning how to forge a more magnificent career with a bigger council with more money to harvest, more dollars for litigation purposes and more fools to hoodwink?), both in the past and currently.

      Steve has cited his passion for working with Council organisations and communities in “creating place” (striving for a sustainable environment and social fabric for a community) (here’s where I pause to vomit) as one of the main drivers for maintaining his involvement in local government. Steve is well regarded in the local government sector generally, having in the past achieved the NSW State Presidency and National Presidency of Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA)”.

      (How effective is all that for someone without any tertiary degree qualifications?!)

      Aren’t we therefore so blessed to have Steve McGrath as the General Manager for the uncontrollable reconstruction of Coffs Harbour’s fabric?

      Yes 40Cm, you are right. It is time to get serious with this bloke (in my view).

      Like many I too find myself finding this ‘possible pretender’ to be somewhat loathsome (but that is just my opinion). How he got here? Well, many may know something, if not all, about the guerrilla-like tactics and the ‘shoe-horning’ that are both alleged to have occurred. Quite possibly also potentially resulting in glorification and ‘benefits’ for those involved too?

      1. Gosh’ now I know where the idea for the waterless urinals that were put in the administration building came from.

  2. Directorate Report – Sustainable Infrastructure? What an oxymoron! There is absolutely nothing “sustainable” IMO within this Directorate.

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