Highlights of the 14 December 2020 Council Meeting

Date

Monday, 14 December 2020

Release

Council considers increasing IPART application by 5%

Council will consider applying to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a fifteen percent Special Rate Variation (SRV), inclusive of the rate peg, to secure the long-term financial future of Council.

Consideration of an alternative rate rise is now on the table. A 10% SRV, adopted as an option at the 26 November Council Meeting or a 15% SRV considered tonight.

Administrator Dick Persson said that a rate rise for the community was a last resort but was needed to secure the long-term financial viability of the Council.

“This is not a decision that will be made lightly but given the current financial situation it has to be on the table,” Mr Persson said.

“I have looked at our new long-term financial plan, for the next ten years. To me it is preferable to maintain an acceptable level of service and ensure our infrastructure is maintained if we are to become financially sustainable.

“Many of our neighbouring Councils pay significantly higher rates than us, and they will still be higher even after an SRV is applied.

“Rates were frozen by the State Government for four years, as part of the amalgamation process. There could be no movement, no harmonisation of rates between the former Gosford and Wyong Councils. That now needs to change.

“After harmonising the rates between the former Wyong and Gosford, the projected impact of a 15% SRV on the average residential payer from Gosford is approximately seven dollars a week, while for Wyong it will be a three dollar a week decrease.

“A rate rise is part of our long-term financial plan. To me, to further reduce our services, potentially impacting the current investment in our infrastructure, is not an acceptable alternative.

“Our community has had the benefit of significant investment in infrastructure and delivery of services that we couldn’t afford.

“A rate rise combined with the reductions Council is making in our workforce as well as asset sales will mean Council can focus on delivering the essential services the community need and value.”

The community can keep up to date with the progress of the SRV and Council’s financial situation by searching ‘news’ at centralcoast.nsw.gov.au

Council making strides in financial recovery

Council is continuing on the path to financial recovery and sustainability with further actions implemented from the adopted Business Recovery Plan.  

Further reductions have been made in the capital works program, sales of assets are underway, an employee savings target has been set, loan negotiations in train as well as notification to IPART for a special rate variation.

Administrator Dick Persson AM said with the cause of the financial situation now clear, there is renewed focus on implementing the changes needed for sustainable financial recovery.

“Council spent more money than it had coming in. It’s as simple as that,” Administrator Persson said.

“We now have the financial controls now in place to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Our focus and resolve is clear – we need to reduce costs and generate more income and that is what we are doing.

“We are selling our underutilized assets, reducing our workforce, finding further savings in our capital works program and looking at our fees and charges.

“A rate rise is on the table and we have indicated to IPART we are looking at that too.

“All this together will mean we can get back into black and ensure we deliver the services our community need and value.”

A forensic audit into Council’s financial situation is continuing and should be reported to the first meeting back for 2021, 27 January.

Council is moving forward with the process to recruit and appoint a new General Manager/Chief Executive Officer.

Council’s current budget includes budget provisions for the recruitment process which includes: advertising to attract strong candidates; pre-screening of applicants by qualified recruiter; two interviews (candidates shortlisted for the second interview will complete a pre-set presentation task); and a report to Council recommending the most meritorious candidate (with reasons) for appointment in accordance with the Guidelines under the Local Government Act.

Updates on Council’s financial situation and recovery can be found by searching ‘news’ on Council’s website.

Consolidated planning controls provide consistency and certainty around future development on the Central Coast

Council has reached an important milestone with the adoption of the consolidated region-wide Central Coast Local Environmental Plan (CCLEP) and Development Control Plan (CCDCP) to help alleviate planning complexities and inconsistencies across the region and creating certainty for residents and the local development industry.

Read separate media release in full here.

Council continues to create more housing and opportunities for the community

Central Coast Council continues to ensure development applications are determined as quickly and consistently as possible. Council is performing well above the state average for Councils (59 days) with a median processing time for applications of 36 days.  

For the July to September 2020 quarter, 841 development applications were lodged, and a total of 718 development applications were determined. The estimated value of applications determined was $262m.

Council works to the Central Coast Regional Plan 2036, which provides the over-arching strategy for development for the Central Coast. It has also put in place improved assessment times and offers formal ‘pre-lodgement’ meetings for prospective applicants. These actions ensure the Central Coast continues to lead the way in creating more housing and opportunities for the community.

Coastal management requires a whole of Government solution

Council tonight received a report on continuing recovery from coastal erosion and future coastal management planning.

Administrator Dick Persson said coastal management planning requires a whole of government solution and particularly the Federal Government getting involved as no Taskforce alone can solve this problem at a local level.

“It is a national problem. One that encountered in my time at Northern Beaches, experienced here on the Central Coast and now further devastation is evident in Byron Bay,” Mr Persson said.

First Central Coast-wide Graffiti Management Strategy to help build community pride

Council has adopted the Central Coast Graffiti Management Strategy 2021-2024, which sets out the approach Council will take, in partnership with others, to effectively manage graffiti across the Central Coast.

The Strategy will replace the former Gosford City and Wyong Shire Graffiti Management Strategies to become the first whole of Central Coast Graffiti Management Strategy.

The Strategy aims to create a sustainable, significant and measurable reduction in graffiti on the Central Coast, while also increasing community awareness and understanding of the issue and providing legitimate avenues for residents to express themselves creatively.

Council Interim Administrator Dick Persson AM said graffiti is a complex issue that requires Council, community members and the police to work together to deliver a multi-faceted solution.

“As one of the most visible crimes, graffiti can impact on perceptions of public safety and community pride,” Mr Persson said.

“This Strategy aims to reduce the negative impacts of graffiti felt by the community and visitors and increase pride in local areas, so that the Central Coast can become an even better place to live, work and play.”

Developed by Council in partnership with local stakeholders and in consultation with the community, the Strategy outlines five key priorities for graffiti management on the Coast: ‘Boost the rapid removal response’, ‘Value our partners in graffiti management’, ‘Make it easier to report graffiti’, ‘Towards legitimate art’ and ‘Prevention’.

In addition to providing a more coordinated response to graffiti on Council owned assets, the strategy will also see Council support the community and businesses to get involved in graffiti removal, provide better support for the Police to do their job through developing stronger partnerships and conducting community safety audits, deliver innovative alternatives such as murals, public art activations and community education programs.

New local centre for Gwandalan community

Central Coast Council has endorsed the rezoning of land at Parraweena Road, Gwandalan which will transform a vacant industrial site into a new local centre for the local community. It is proposed to include both commercial and residential uses which will consist of a supermarket and retail shops, service station, village green, childcare centre, medical centre and residential housing. This proposal realises Council’s and the NSW Government’s vision for the area.  

Council is committed to the improved amenity and activation of our region to drive business and economic development, and to create new experiences and vibrant hubs for locals and visitors to enjoy. This is another example of Council’s work in this area.

Council appoints new members to the Hunter Central Coast Regional Planning Panel

Central Coast Council has appointed alternate members to the Hunter Central Coast Regional Planning Panel (HCCRPP), for the period of Council suspension.

This follows advice from the Office of Local Government that the four nominated Central Coast Councillors who currently sit on the HCCRPP cannot hold those positions during the period of Council suspension.

The alternate appointees have been selected from the existing members of the Central Coast Local Planning Panel. Those appointees are:

  • Greg Flynn (Panel Nominee - from ‘expert’ Local Planning Panel list)
  • Anthony Tuxworth (Panel Nominee from ‘community’ Local Planning Panel list)
  • Stephen Leathley (Alternate Nominee from ‘expert’ Local Planning Panel list)
  • Lynette Hunt (Alternate Nominee from ‘community’ Local Planning Panel list)

The HCCRPP deals with development applications of regional significance and this appointment ensures Council’s representation in the decision-making process remains.

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Last updated : Tue 15 Dec 2020