Return to chaos at Shellharbour council

Shellharbour's new local government leaders learn the ropes at Lamerton House in 2011. The old council was sacked as "dysfunctional" in 2008.

Shellharbour's new local government leaders learn the ropes at Lamerton House in 2011. The old council was sacked as "dysfunctional" in 2008.

Cr Peter Moran dropped the F-word as he departed Tuesday's heated Shellharbour City Council meeting.

Cr Peter Moran dropped the F-word as he departed Tuesday's heated Shellharbour City Council meeting.

Shellharbour City Council is again on the verge of being classed as dysfunctional, according to one councillor, after another night of high emotion at Lamerton House.

Tensions between councillors spilled over on a number of items at Tuesday's ordinary meeting during a public session and again behind closed doors, the evening ending with Cr Peter Moran dropping the F-word as he made an early exit from the chambers.

Earlier in the night it was a mayoral minute from Marianne Saliba, calling for the council to shift the date of the next mayoral election because of a clash with a planned holiday, that raised tempers.

Cr Saliba said "a technical glitch" meant the annual meeting on September 23 was not in her diary when she made plans to take her two foster children interstate for the school holidays.

But rather than not attend the meeting and leave Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin in the chair, Cr Saliba wanted the meeting rescheduled for September 30.

Cr Saliba said legislation dictated mayoral elections must be held in September.

"It is a very important meeting and should have all councillors at it," Cr Saliba said.

"This is a meeting that decides who leads our city for the next 12 months, decides our deputy mayor and every committee position for the next 12 months.

"I will add that if we had a mayor elected by the people this wouldn't be a problem."

However, Cr Kellie Marsh said moving a meeting to suit a mayor's holiday was "unprecedented", while Cr Peter Moran said the September 23 meeting date was locked in almost a year ago.

Cr Helen Stewart, who was part of Shellharbour council when it was sacked in 2008, said the item should never have been introduced as a mayoral minute.

"We are heading down the path of being dysfunctional ... I was on a dysfunctional council," she said.

"Former director Peter O'Rourke said in the public inquiry it was very sad independents would receive different information to Labor councillors and this is where we are going ... there is no communication, no mutual respect.

"You use myself, Cr Moran and Cr Marsh as a punching bag - while everyone else gets information."

Councillors voted 4-3 to shift the mayoral election meeting, with Cr Saliba gaining the support of Cr Rankin and fellow Labor councillors John Murray and David Boyle.

Shellharbour City Council was sacked in July 2008, with then Local Government Minister Paul Lynch saying the elected council seemed so dysfunctional that an administrator could only be an improvement.

After three years in administration, seven councillors were elected in 2011.

The current council is due to serve until September 2016.

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