RESIDENTS are calling for an investigation into Upper Hunter Shire Council saying it is failing to deliver on core business and major projects, and spiralling into debt.
A petition signed by 1200 people tabled in parliament says the council has got to go, requesting for it to be placed into administration.
"It is failing to fulfil its most basic obligations in respect of its residents and ratepayers ..." the petition says.
"We petitioners have long held serious concerns regarding Council's management of major projects, its accumulation of debt and ability to maintain basic local road services.
"We ... can see no prospect that the situation will resolve itself."
Balmain Greens MP Kobi Shetty said she agreed to table the document because the community felt they did not have a voice on the matter.
"They were seeking help from someone outside their local community to help elevate their concerns," Ms Shetty said.
"That is why I agreed to table the petition for them in the NSW Parliament ... No local community should feel that they've been left without a voice."
Upper Hunter resident Trisha Taylor, who started the petition, said people call her on a daily basis wanting to sign and talk about their a growing list of complaints.
"Everyone in NSW deserves to know what this council is doing because it's also their money that this council is wasting," Ms Taylor said.
She referred to the council's bungled repair of the Merriwa to Willow Tree Road which started with a price tag of just under $10 million, and is now set to cost upwards of $60 million, with a hefty injection of state and federal funds.
The Upper Hunter Shire Council attempted to manage the construction itself, despite objections, and failed to build it properly. It then tried to keep the details of the stuff-up a secret, refusing to publicly release a geotechnical report.
It spent almost $10,000 fighting a freedom of information application for access to the report from one of its own councillors.
"They need to be investigated and put into administration," Ms Taylor said.
"It's one thing after another, every phone call I take there's somebody with a different story, going back six to ten years."
Residents complaints included lengthy development application delays and letters going unanswered, "just things that should not be happening."
Upper Hunter Shire Councillor Elizabeth Flaherty, who has signed and supports the petition, said people were fed up.
"The petition is a sign that local ratepayers have had enough and we lack oversight of this council which we see as financially unsustainable,"Cr Flaherty said.
"They are losing $1.6 million per year on the airport and they can't get it on track, we've got an $11 million budget, and we are $36 million in debt, and they are not able to reign in expenditure."
The Scone cattle yards were also losing money, at a rate of $500,000 per year, she said, while the child care centre, which was making money, had been ear marked for sale.
"When you look at their books they are fanciful," Ms flaherty said.
"They are predicting that the throughput of cattle will double, except that already ... they are saying cattle numbers are going to be down and we are going to continue to accrue losses."
Meanwhile the council is looking at a rate rise of 7.5 per cent, Ms Flaherty said.
"They are not able to perform their function as a local government agency, but have gone out and done all of these extra curricular activities which are not core business," Ms Flaherty said.
"We are a small community that cannot sustain these kinds of losses."
The council has not responded to the petition, but in a statement to the Newcastle Herald a spokesperson said it had been put to the state government, not to the council.
"As such the state government will need to determine if approximately 1200 people who signed the petition from across the entire state (or even further afield) is representative of the 14,000 people who live in the shire and if so whether the wording of the petition is relevant," the statement said.
"Council will take any direction from the state government on this matter as and when necessary."
The sale yards were an important service which the community wanted, it said.
"And Council will levy fees and charges that provide the best balance of recouping costs and ensuring the facility continues to provide an economic benefit to those who directly use it and those who indirectly benefit from the economic uplift it provides in the region."
The airport also provided an important service and the "overwhelming response" from the community was they wanted to see it continue "due to the economic, tourism and safety aspect it provides".
"Council will continue to operate the airport and set fees relating to its use to ensure it continues to provide (those benefits).
The child care centre was another required service, and the council would explore whether other providers could provide the same service at the same standard "however there are no plans before the Council at present to sell this service".
A 7.5 per cent rate rise in 2025/26 had been raised in a community consultation process and where it was "generally accepted by those in attendance" as a required increase.
"Construction costs on road related infrastructure continues to increase at significantly higher rates than this, and if roads in particular (which generate even less income than saleyards or the airport or childcare centres) are to continue to be maintained so that they too can generate all the economic and tourism benefits then a rate increase will be necessary," the statement said
There was "a significant amount of community consultation" to be undertaken on a range of options before the council applied for, or was granted a rate rise, it said.