At the Council meeting on 23 May 2023, I delivered a public statement regarding transfers of funds from Council’s restricted cash reserves in 2020 and 2021. At the time, I stated that investigations were ongoing in relation to the treatment of funds in Council’s Restricted Cash Reserves.
Although the investigations into these matters are still ongoing, Council’s Chief Financial Officer has taken the necessary action to reverse the transfers and return the funds to the relevant Restricted Cash Reserves, being an action agreed by the Office of Local Government.
Council considered these actions at its meeting last night and resolved to take the following steps:
1) Return $35,500,000 from Ryde Central Reserve to S7.11 Externally Restricted Reserves as follows:
- $26,406,740 to S7.11 Open Space & Recreation Facility Reserve
- $8,659,138 to S7.11 Community & Cultural Facility Reserve
- $434,122 to S7.11 Stormwater Management Facility Reserve
2) Return $1,086,451 Employee Leave Entitlements Reserve to S7.11 Externally Restricted Reserves as follows:
- $808,159 to S7.11 Open Space & Recreation Facility Reserve
- $265,006 to S7.11 Community & Cultural Facility Reserve
- $13,286 to S7.11 Stormwater Management Facility Reserve
3) Allocate a total of $1,140,267 from Accommodation Reserve for interest earned in prior years to S7.11 Externally Restricted Reserves as follows:
- $848,190 to S7.11 Open Space & Recreation Facility Reserve
- $278,133 to S7.11 Community & Cultural Facility Reserve
- $13,944 to S7.11 Stormwater Management Facilities Reserve
4) Return $3,381,645 from Accommodation Reserve to Voluntary Planning Agreement Reserve
5) Return $361,249 from Accommodation Reserve to Voluntary Planning Agreement Reserve
6) Return the amount of $1,006,700 from Accommodation Reserve to Domestic Waste Reserve due to a COVID-19 Rates Rebate.
Council also resolved to adopt a new Cash Reserves Policy. This Policy will provide greater confidence for the Council and community on the future utilisation of any restricted reserve funds by staff contained within those restricted reserves.
I stress that the implementation of the above resolution will have no adverse impact on Council rates or the quality of services and programs that Council provides to the community. In fact, this will now mean that funds that had previously been set aside for open space, community and cultural facilities, and infrastructure needs can now be allocated back to projects and programs within those areas.
Finally, as a result of these actions, and as I mentioned in May, the future of the Ryde Central Project is currently under review. We will continue to keep the Council and the community updated as that review progresses.
As these matters are still with the Office of the Local Government and Independent Commission Against Corruption for their consideration, no further comment can be made by the Council at this time.