ON TRACK:  Shelley Oldham said her first priority at general manager for Lismore City Council is to ensure ratepayers are kept in the loop regarding its financial position.
ON TRACK: Shelley Oldham said her first priority at general manager for Lismore City Council is to ensure ratepayers are kept in the loop regarding its financial position. Alison Paterson

New GM adamant she'll bring the council's house into order

FIVE weeks into her role as the general manager of Lismore City Council, Shelley Oldham is adamant she will bring the council's house into order even if it means taking on the State Government.

On her agenda is money she believes the government owes the council for the 2017 flood recovery and she also has her sights set on the state waste levy.

Bringing a wealth of expertise from a 30-year career at the pointy end of the public sector, combined with broad experience working in government transformation, stakeholder management and strategy, Ms Oldham is clearly relishing the challenges the role brings.

"Without being political, the State Government owes us millions of dollars for our 2017 flood clean-up work and hopefully they will be forthcoming,” she said.

"The NSW Government has a state waste levy which has cost us $13 million since it started which we could have used to benefit the city.”

She said since taking the job her primary goal had been to ensure ratepayers and residents of the 18th most populous place in NSW were informed about how their council was performing.

"The first thing the community will become aware of is a greater clarity around our financial situation, about where we we are up and what we can and cannot continue regarding projects,” she said.

"The community is entitled to a financially stable council and one that is able to meet its future financial obligations.”

Ms Oldham said she was working hard with the NSW Government on what she called "the balancing of the books” regarding monies owed to the council.

Ms Oldham said it was vital ratepayers and residents understood the pressures coming to bear on the council, so managing the expectations of citizens was very important.

"The average ratepayer looks at council and says 'you're not doing this right',” she said. "We need to have a conversation with them so they understand what impacts on council and what we can and cannot do.”

Ms Oldham said she was excited to be in the role as she believed in the city and region.

"I took the job because I believe Lismore is a fantastic place just waiting to go off,” she said. "Working here ... you get the biggest intellectual challenges to solve complex problems, you have really diverse stakeholders, where the only way to get things done is through consensus.

"It's not like a corporation where you can bowl in and make changes. You have to get the community on board with the budget and their service expectations and get politicians to agree.”



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