Mayor Gerard O’Connell will seek to meet with the remaining four board members next week.
Mayor Gerard O’Connell will seek to meet with the remaining four board members next week. Alistair Brightman

Council arrogant and impossible to negotiate with: Tatnell

THE council has been arrogant and impossible to negotiate with, sacked Wide Bay Water deputy chairman Raymond 'Curly' Tatnell says.

Mr Tatnell said it was both disappointing and liberating to have been sacked.

He predicted he would be sacked on Thursday night after using a public forum to label council's ongoing attempt to takeover WBW as dangerous and costly to ratepayers.

He said the board also issued a letter to the council on Friday morning indicating it would disobey directions not to appoint a new chief executive officer.

Mr Tatnell said the board also told the council it would halt a shared service agreement between WBW and the council over concerns the agreement could trigger a $65 million stamp duty bill.

The Wide Bay Water chairman Danny Mattsson was also sacked the day after Mr Tatnell spoke out against the Fraser Coast Regional Council's messy bid to take back control of the corporation.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell fired them both on Friday.

Mr Tatnell said decision makers on the council had continued to direct a takeover by stealth after the Queensland Treasury ruled in February the council would not be exempt from the stamp duty bill.

The council has been trying since November last year to turn the corporation back into a commercial business unit of the council.

Cr O'Connell said he would seek to meet with the remaining four board members next week.

He said the two board members were sacked because their position was philosophically opposed to the council, which is WBW's sole shareholder.

"We were just left in an untenable situation," he said.

"Council firmly believes that the board's actions have undermined the public confidence in Wide Bay Water Corporation and council."

A new chairman and deputy chairman are yet to be appointed.
 
The saga continues

  • The Fraser Coast Council voted in November 2012 to turn Wide Bay Water from a local government owned corporation (LGOC), with its own chief executive and board, into a commercial business unit (CBU) of the council. This would include about 30 job losses, mostly from senior positions.
  • The vote was based on two separate reports that identified annual savings of up to $4 million if Wide Bay Water was turned in to a CBU. The WBW board has not been able to find the promised $4 million.
  • The council was forced to halt the takeover two days before it was supposed to go ahead in February when the Queensland Treasury ruled it would not be exempt from a $65 million stamp duty bill.
  • The new council-appointed board took up their roles in April. They were tasked with finding $3 million in savings and have already implemented $1.6 million in budget cuts.
  • Councillors endorsed a statement of corporate intent and a corporate plan for Wide Bay Water in the latest council meeting on Wednesday.
  • Former Wide Bay Water deputy chair Raymond Tatnell spoke out publicly against the takeover bid on Thursday.
  • The board also sent a letter to the council yesterday. The letter stated the board would appoint a new chief executive for Wide Bay Water, against the directions of the council, and would halt a shared service agreement until further notice.
  • Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell then fired Mr Tatnell and board chairman Danny Mattsson about noon on Friday.
  • Cr O'Connell is expected to meet with Treasury next Thursday to call for a change in legislation to allow the council to be exempt from the $65 million stamp duty bill. If Treasury refuses to change the legislation, Wide Bay Water will remain as an LGOC.
  • Cr O'Connell is also seeking a meeting with Local Government Minister David Crisafulli. He will call for Mr Crisafulli to change legislation to allow councillors to sit on the board of Wide Bay Water if it remains as an LGOC.
     


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