Highlight of the 23 November 2021 Ordinary Council Meeting
Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Quarterly review shows Council progressing steadily on actions for 2021-22
Council adopted the Quarter 1 Business Report for 2021-2022 including proposed budget amendments.
Council Administrator, Rik Hart said Council actions were progressing steadily against the organisation’s operational plan activities and financial performance for the first quarter period of 2021-22.
“The results reflect Council’s focus on tight budget management controls; improved cashflow monitoring and forecasts; and actions to keep costs down and ensure a more sustainable cash preservation,” Mr Hart said.
“The budget adjustments respond to changed circumstances including impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on forecasted revenue, revaluation of some assets and other changes anticipated in the Long Term Financial Plan. Importantly these budget adjustments are made with minimal impacts to the bottom line.
“This is exactly what the community expects us to be transparent about and we continue to explain Council finances with improved financial reporting.
“We have stuck to what we told the community we would do in our financial recovery plan last year and it is working to support the long term financial sustainability of Council operations,” Mr Hart said.
Key points from the Quarter 1 Report are as follows:
The overall performance against the Operational Plan actions and targets at the end of Quarter 1 (1 July to 30 September 2021) shows that out of the 66 actions / indicators, one has been Completed, 43 are on Track, one has Not Commenced, and 21 are either Delayed, On Hold or have been Closed. The majority of those that are Delayed, On Hold or Closed are due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the need to comply with the NSW Public Health orders, which were in place during Quarter 1.
The year to date (YTD) operating result (excluding capital grants and contributions) is showing a favourable, variance of $12.2M, consisting of an actual surplus of $219.1M compared to a budget surplus of $206.9M.
The year to date (YTD) operating result (including capital grants and contributions) is showing a favourable variance of $12.3M, consisting of an actual surplus of $227.8M compared to a budget surplus of $215.5M.
The proposed Q1 adjustments will move the 2021-2022 approved operating surplus (excluding capital grants and contributions) from $7.0M to an operating surplus (excluding capital grants and contributions) of $3.1M.
The proposed Q1 adjustments will move the 2021-2022 approved operating surplus (including capital grants and contributions) from $49.9M to an operating surplus (including capital grants and contributions) of $70.8M.
The year to date (YTD) capital expenditure is $19.0M compared to a year-to-date budget of $29.3M.
The proposed Q1 capex budget adjustment is a decrease of $2.3M that will result in a revised 2021-2022 full year capital works program of $172.7M from $175.0M.
Central Coast Council has released its Annual Report for 2020-21.
Council Administrator, Rik Hart said that despite Council’s financial difficulties, Council continued to deliver services and many important achievements that the community and staff can be proud of.
“The coast community has certainly lived the highs and lows of the last financial year,” Mr Hart said.
“From November 2020 our focus has been on financial recovery. We have taken decisive actions in a short space of time including significantly reducing costs without largely impacting on the services delivered for the community. This is a testament to the organisation’s actions in finding productivity improvements and I want to acknowledge and thank staff for their tremendous work in what has been an unprecedented difficult time.”
Council’s highlights over the 2020-21 financial year include:
Completed Central Coast Council Local Environmental Plan and Consolidated Development Control Plan.
Delivered 2.55 kilometres of drainage infrastructure, 17.5 kilometre of road pavement renewal, 19.1 kilometres of road resurfacing and 6.5 kilometres of kerb and guttering.
Exceeded attendance targets across the 6 leisure and aquatic centres, with more than 1 million visits over the financial year despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
Supported 41 community events and delivered 14 major events across the Coast despite interruptions due to COVID-19 restrictions. These events delivered an economic benefit to the region of $6.58 million.
Delivered an Inclusive Sports Resource Booklet as part of the new Sports Hub as a resource for local clubs and recreation providers on how to make their sport more accessible for people with disabilities.
Progressed the two year certification program for the Central Coast to become an Eco Destination, contributing to further nature-based tourism opportunities.
Completed 277-metre long Terrigal Boardwalk, thanks to State Government funding and project included renovations to the rockpool.
Completed a recycled plastic trial, which focused on enabling residents to recycle soft plastics using their existing yellow-lidded recycling bins.
In usual circumstances the audited financial statements are required to be included in the Annual Report, however Audit NSW advised that the audited financial statements will not be returned in time. The Office of Local Government have not granted an extension for the rest of the Annual Report and as such, the financial statements for 2020-21 will be an addendum to the Annual Report once they have been audited and adopted by Council.
Community to benefit from Council Grant Programs
Council has allocated nearly $300,000 from its Community Development and Community Support Grants Programs to support 34 local programs, projects and events that build connections and celebrate the local community. These have been funded through existing and approved Operational Plan budgets.
As part of the Community Development Grant Program Council has allocated $266,439.69 to 26 successful applicants including:
Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve Land Manager – Purchase of Shade house and Vacuums
Central Coast Community Women’s Health Centre Ltd – Art-Full Women workshops
Kincumber Neighbourhood Centre – Wayward Youth Theatre Program
Happiness Habits Incorporated – Employable You interactive workshops
Terrigal Avoca Australian Football Incorporated – canteen equipment upgrade
Avoca Beach Rugby Union Club – Building Women’s and Junior Rugby League on the Central Coast – Safety in tackling
Trilogy Disability Foundation Limited – Caring for Carers: Capacity building and social support for informal carers
Road Safety Education Limited – RYDA Road Safety Education Program
Empire Bay Progress Association Incorporated – TV and audio installation Empire Bay Hall
Mooney-Cheero Progress Association Incorporated – Cheero Point Park Garden regeneration
Youth off the Streets Limited – The Lakes College – Food for Thought program
We Care Connect Limited – The Sunday Sort – new weekend volunteering opportunity
Naughty Noodle Fun Haus Incorporated – ThursGAY monthly pop-up safe performance spaces
National Service 1951-72 Re Enactment Unit Incorporated – Senior School Students Orienteering Program
Iris Foundation Australia Limited – Wings to Succeed – supporting Central Coast women breaking the cycle of disadvantage
In8 Concepts Pty Ltd – SWAMP Central Coast – Soil to Plate program
Coastal A Cappella – Coastal Rockapella – a three-concert series showcasing Coastal A Cappella
5 Lands Artists Collective Incorporated – Brave words Community Writing Program
St Vincent de Paul Society NSW – Building the capacity of a men’s and women’s shed
Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre Incorporated – Project Aware on The Brisbane Waters
The Trustee for The Salvation Army (NSW) Property Trust- Oasis Youth Services – LEMONADE- When Life gives you lemons – wellbeing and mentoring support for people aged 14-17
Fairhaven Services Limited – Getting it Together all ages inclusive program
River Cares Incorporated – Community Information Day
Choose Thrive Incorporated – Project: Restore Mentoring Program connecting at-risk youth and community members
Tall Timbers Pony Club Incorporated – Tallies Cross County Experience
As part of the Community Support Grants Program Council has allocated $27,759.86 to eight successful applicants including:
Gosford Sailing Club – archiving & digitising project
Saratoga Sailing Club Inc – Rates and Charges Subsidy
The Bays Community Club Inc – 50% subsidy of the ordinary Council rates component 2021/2022
Woy Woy RLFC – Sound system upgrade to Woy Woy oval grandstand and club house
The Rotary Club of Gosford City – Rotary Peace Park Activation project – an upgrade of an integrated green space in Point Frederick
Tuggerah Lakers Christian Education Board Incorporated – F.U.S.E Camp – an annual school holiday camp program for local high school students in the Tuggerah Lakes area
The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) on behalf of Gosford Uniting Church – Christmas Eve Community Carols 24 Dec 2021 catering to young families
Coast & Country Primary Care Limited – Mental Health Art Works – an art exhibition with a difference, providing a platform for people whose lives have been affected by mental illness
Council Administrator, Rik Hart said Council’s Community Development and Community Support Grants Programs supports local community organisations to deliver specific projects and activities for the community, enhancing the quality of life for residents.
“It has undoubtedly been a difficult year for locals as many have spent time apart during COVID-19 lockdowns. We need to rebuild that sense of community and belonging and so it is important that we see key community activities given the financial and in-kind support they need to bring the community together once again,” Mr Hart said.
Council to control aquatic weeds across all of Springfield Pond
Council will treat and remove Salvinia and other aquatic weeds from the privately owned part of Springfield Pond to protect the biodiversity of the area. This work will be funded by a grant from the NSW Government.
Springfield Pond is located on both Council owned land and privately owned land.
In 2019, Council received a $125,000 grant from the NSW Government specifically for the removal of weeds on the public portion of the pond. Council has been using this funding from to remove weeds, treat and maintain the public part of the pond in 2019 and 2020.
Council has successfully negotiated a change in the funding agreement to spend the remaining NSW Government grant funds on treating the upstream, private part of the pond.
Council Administrator, Rik Hart said treating the private portion of the pond will reduce the risk of the weeds re-invading the public part of Springfield Pond.
“We have made important progress in restoring the natural beauty of the wetland over the past two years. I look forward to seeing this good work continue across the rest of Springfield Pond,” Mr Hart said.
“The pond and its surrounding wetland are part of a rich ecosystem of birds, wildlife and aquatic animals. We want to protect it for our environment and our community alike.”
Council will work in collaboration with the landowner to control the aquatic weeds across the entirety of Springfield Pond.
Following completion of the endorsed works Council will prepare a further report including the nature of works, and expenditure, and will include consideration of the appropriateness of charging a prescribed fee to private land owners for this activity.
Rent relief to help support Council tenants continue their businesses
Council will provide rent relief to some commercial tenants impacted by Covid to meet legislative requirements and to assist in the ongoing viability of these businesses.
Council Administrator, Rik Hart said some of Council’s commercial tenants are heavily affected by the impacts of the current COVID-19 outbreak with many tenancies unable to continue their operation due to the ongoing Public Health Orders.
“In an effort to lessen the burden and meet our legislative requirements, rent relief will be provided to eligible tenants in accordance with the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 and National Cabinet’s Mandatory Code of Conduct,” Mr Hart said.
“Council staff will implement strict eligibility criteria for tenants requesting rental concessions and will require applicants to provide turnover figures and details of trading limitations and what actions the businesses have undertaken regarding their operations, including the accessing of Government concessions to date.
“Whilst Council is not in a financial position to lose an anticipated income of around $11,000, this decision reaches a mid-point in acknowledging the ongoing hardship of some tenants and provide some assistance.
“This relief not only supports the business owners and will retain Council’s tenants but will also benefit the wider community through the continuation of local employment and boost to the economy.”
Update to Council’s Complaints and Feedback Management Policy following community consultation
Council has approved the recommendation to update its Complaints and Feedback Management Policy after its initial review at the 28 October 2021 Council meeting, and in conjunction with recommendations from the 2019-20 Complaints Management Final Internal Audit Report (March 2021).
The Policy provides guidance on the key principles and concepts of Council’s complaint management processes for reference by staff, Councillors and to members of the public who wish to make a complaint or provide feedback.
While on public exhibition from 7 October 2021 to 7 November 2021, the Policy consultation received 11 submissions; the majority of which shared concerns or feedback to Council in lieu of Policy change recommendations. The submission which included a recommendation suggested a requirement for Council staff to distinguish between a complaint, and a comment or feedback – a recommendation which has been endorsed by Council.
Council Administrator, Rik Hart thanked the community for their participation and feedback throughout the consultation period, and flagged Council’s ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.
“Undertaking regular revision of policies ensures they stay current and incorporates best practice, with the aim of meeting community priorities and ensuring good governance,” said Mr Hart.
“The update to our Policy was informed by our community; we asked for their collaboration and we are pleased to include their recommendation.”
Understanding customer experience with Council is a key strategic priority. Following the implementation of Council’s Online Customer Experience Centre (CX Portal) on 27 September 2020 as part of its improvement program, Council has measured a 36% decrease in community complaints for 2020/21.
Given that multiple submissions during the Policy’s public exhibition period included concerns or feedback in lieu of recommendations, Council embraced this opportunity to start a dialogue with these members of the community, contacting each person by telephone or email and entering their feedback into Council’s Customer Relationship Management System.
“Thank you to our customers and members of our community who continue to be respectful to our staff during this significant period of change and challenge, and thank you to our staff, who have shown resilience and an unwavering commitment to servicing the community throughout Council’s recent financial crisis,” said Mr Hart.