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Ratepayers hit with $46,000 censure bill for Councillor as he feuds with Mayor

Jul 17, 2023

Michael Sainsbury

Hawkesbury ratepayers have forked out at least $46,000 for the Hawkesbury City Council’s successful code of conduct motion to censure Councillor Eddie Dogramaci.

Cr Dogramaci was found to have breached council rules by attaching his council business card to electioneering material for the recent NSW elections where he was a candidate.

He was also censured for comments in election leaflets he distributed that “adversely” affect the reputation of Council and that suggest Council has mismanaged their response in relation to a sewer leak (Rising Main C) and withheld information from him in relation to Rising Main C.”

As well as a verbal reprimand, he has also been referred to the Office of Local Government.

The finding against Cr Dogramaci was voted in favor by eight councillors after Crs Nathan Zampragno, Amanda Kotlash and Patrick Connolly recused themselves from the hearing which was held in secret at the end of last Tuesday’s council meeting.

But Cr Dogramaci has said he was not given the chance to put his case to the other councillors and was asked to leave the meeting. He claimed he had done nothing wrong and that the HCC was withholding information on the $35 million loan to cover the massive blow out in the sewerage repair job.

The decision not to give him a chance to be heard was made by Mayor Sarah McMahon, he said. Separately, Cr McMahon has refused to answer any questions from the Hawkesbury Post.

“She was abrupt and she was rude and she has said she will no longer speak to me,” Cr Dogramaci told the Hawkesbury Post. “If you don’t agree with everything she says then you become the enemy. I would strongly suggest that the Office of Local Government begins an investigation into the Council and its record of waste.”

Cl Eddie Dogramaci is accused of breaking the rules by attaching his council business card to electioneering material at the recent NSW election where he was a candidate.

Cr Dogramaci has been a thorn in the side of the unusual Liberal/Labor alliance of six councillors, led by Mayor Sarah McMahon that holds sway over the Council. The six are able to win close votes, with the mayor having a casting vote if required. Cr Mary Lyons-Buckett has been agitating to have council numbers change to an odd number, for example 11 or 13, to stop a situation where the mayor potentially gets two votes.

Cr Dogramaci has a record of pursuing money wasted by Council and has been dogged in his pursuit of a number of high costing issues led by the $35 million plus bill for the repair of the sewer. 

While HCC refused to answer questions of the cost of the action against Cr Dogramaci, the Hawkesbury Post has learned that councilors were told that the report commissioned by outside consultants cost $46,000. On top of this was the time spent by Council management on the case.

While HCC won’t say who lodged the complaint against Cr Dogramaci. Cr Zamprogno said he recused himself – voluntarily departed the censure hearing and vote –  due to his long association with Cr Dogramaci, which predates the latter’s time on HCC. Observers have noted that the recusal of Crs Kotlash and Connolly are a strong inclination that they brought the complaints against Cr Dogramaci.  Any councillor involved with bringing a case against a councillor must recuse themselves.

“It would be a breach of our code of conduct for me to answer your question,” Cr Connolly said.

Cr Kotlash, who was the Australian Labor Party candidate in the same NSW election as Cr Dogramaci, ignored all requests for comment. HCC management also declined to comment on the cost of the censure.

 

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