Council Urged to ‘bite the Bullet’

Published: Fri 16 Aug 2013 03:15 PM
Council Urged to ‘bite the Bullet’
AUGUST 16 2013
A senior Hamilton accountant who has been working behind the scenes to save the Meteor Theatre says Council needs to “bite the bullet” and do what’s right.
In fact, he’s so concerned about Council’s financial management that Rob Pascoe will stand in the upcoming local body elections, promising much tighter financial management.
Hamilton-born Pascoe is a former partner of global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers who now runs his own business consultancy firm.
But despite his strong financial background, Pascoe said Council should not always focus solely on the money.
In October 2012, he was approached by local thespian Alec Forbes and lawyer Charlotte Isaac and asked help develop a long-term financial solution to Hamilton’s theatre problems.
He’s been donating his time ever since and said his involvement with The Meteor issue and its financial woes has convinced him he should stand for Council.
“There have been a lot of very poor decisions made in the past because the financial risks have not been properly identified, nor understood,” he said.
“If you have a large business like Council, with an annual income in excess of $230m being governed by well-meaning people but with little or no financial acumen, it will end it tears. And it has.”
Pascoe says debt is “crippling the city” and believes Hamilton’s failure to balance its books has backed the city into a corner.
He lays the blame not with staff, but with Councilors who he says “are the final decision makers.”
“You just cannot keep spending, spending, spending and then wonder why there’s no money left. And no, you can’t expect ratepayers to pick up the tab when things go wrong.”
He said Councilors should be prepared to make the tough decisions – and bring Council back to surplus.
“It is absolutely crazy to keep borrowing money in order to fund a shortfall.”
And where does that leave The Meteor?
“Personally, I’d like to see the Council hand the building over to a Trust and make the Trust, and not the Council, liable for any ongoing costs.”
“But all councilors should understand the financials implications of any decision before it’s made.”

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