Armidale Regional Council has adopted a motion to suggest the next council continue with a Performance Improvement Order (PIO) - but it wasn't a unanimous decision.
The performance order was put in place when councillors returned from suspension last year.
In his introduction to the motion at last week's council meeting, proposed in his mayoral minute, Cr Ian Tiley said it did not seek to bind a new council.
"It only suggests to them the importance to continue the process of securing a financially sustainable council with solid performance frameworks in place to ensure long term success and strength," he said.
"This should, of course, be the basic mandate of every new council."
Cr Tiley also hit back at 'keyboard warriors' he said had criticised the proposal on social media.
"It is absolutely appropriate for a sitting council to make recommendations or requests to an incoming council," Cr Tiley said.
"This is a regular occurrence in our industry, and after what the present council has experienced, this is even more relevant and important."
In December 2020, the Minister for Local Government issued a PIO on council and appointed John Rayner as the financial controller to oversee compliance with the order.
The PIO required the council to undertake various actions to improve its performance in governance and its financial position. There is also a requirement on the council to report on progress made periodically.
Cr Tiley said he proposed the motion following a suggestion by council's financial controller John Rayner.
"We agreed to strongly emphasise to the incoming council that it continues on the path of governance and financial reform which has been commenced through responding to the requirements of the PIO," Cr Tiley said.
"Mr Rayner recently expressed to me the need for the incoming council to continue the good work councillors and staff are doing."
However, Cr Tiley said it would be up to the incoming council what it does with the actions under the PIO.
"The PIO doesn't roll over to the new council, but Mr Rayner advised me that the current council could request the 2021/24 council to continue with the PIO actions," he said.
Cr Tiley referred to a report from Mr Rayner, which said following years of neglect and the stripping of staff numbers council had been exposed to serious non-compliance across its governance and property management responsibilities.
"The PIO requires numerous actions to address the many failures which were identified by reviews," Mr Rayner said.
"Finances and capacity have been depleted. Therefore, to get the council to a sound financial position with good governance processes and compliance, the council will need to go beyond the actions required under the PIO.
"It will require a highly disciplined approach over the coming years."
Councillors O'Brien, O'Connor and Robinson voted against the motion, and two of them spoke against it.
"I support the current general manager, the councillors and all of our staff on their brave attempts to support the current PIO as being a way out of the train wreck we have been through," Cr O'Connor said.
"I would passionately hope that the new council ... does embrace the spirit and some of the conditions of the PIO, but they will be very ably advised by the current general manager and staff."
A lot of 'healing work' was done to ensure the council's culture becomes a 'healthy' one, Cr O'Connor added.
"It is a fundamental principle of democracy ... that local government remains local, it is not a matter for state directed local government," she said.
"I can't support this minute because I believe that a new election is an opportunity for a fresh start."
Cr O'Connor said it was up to the new council to decide if it supports or rejects the PIO work.
"It is always a good thing to fix good things that have been broken, and I have been broken, we have been broken, and the community has been broken over this term," Cr O'Connor said.
"Let those elected people choose and choose freely without voices from the past trying to haunt them about a period of trauma which we need to heal as quickly as possible.
"I have every confidence that the new council will be well guided by the general manager, by the staff, and also by the voices of this community.
"Many thanks to our financial controller, but his term has a beginning and an end, and I think he accepts that."
The PIO remains in place until September 4, when the final compliance report is due to be submitted to the Minister, and Mr Rayner's term concludes.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: