Highlights of the 23 February 2021 Council Meeting

Date

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Release

Quarterly budget report confirms deficit reduction of $7.7M 

Council has provided the 2020-21 Q2 Business Report, which covers the progress of the operational plan actions, targets and financial performance for the period 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.

Remedial actions to reduce Council’s operating deficit continue including a structural reduction in operating expenditure, reducing capital expenditure, secured bank loans, generating additional income and moving to sell underperforming assets.

Council Administrator Dick Persson AM assured the community budget savings were continuing to be made, while delivering essential infrastructure and services to the region.

“Good news is all our hard work to find savings and rein in spending is working with the deficit reduced by $7.7M,” Mr Persson said.

“We are also recovering faster than expected from COVID with an extra $3.3M in income from our Holiday Parks, Leisure Centres and child care centres.

“This is in addition to a reduction of $4.4million in operational expenditure, with reduction of materials, contracts and other expenses as a result of stringent expenditure control.

“The capital works program has been reduced by $53.3M to $170M a year with priority given to essential services and delivering projects over several years.

“However, despite all this great work, Council’s projected financial position at 30 June 2021 will still be unsatisfactory with a current forecasted loss of $107.4M.

“So the hard work will continue to find the savings and deliver a balanced budget for next financial year. Hopefully we do get a Special Variation from IPART so that we can pay back restricted funds and deliver the services our community need and value.”

Overall performance against the Operational Plan actions and targets shows that out of the 108 actions / targets, 3 have been Completed, 67 are on Track, 5 have Not Commenced, and 33 are either Delayed, On Hold or have been Closed. A number of these have been impacted by the financial situation.

Further information on Council’s Financial Situation, including details of Council’s Business Recovery Plan and Special Variation application to IPART can be found at by searching news at centralcoast.nsw.gov.au

Policy to manage tree and vegetation vandalism

Council has adopted a policy that ensures a consistent approach to the management of vandalism of trees and other vegetation on public land.

Administrator Dick Persson AM said the policy had been updated with feedback from the community late last year.

“It was great to see positive community feedback on this policy,” Mr Persson said.

“The policy reinforces Council’s commitment to protecting our natural environment and gives us a range of tools, including education and enforcement, to manage unlawful damage to tress and vegetation.

“I know how important the natural environment is to our community who don’t want to see the natural environment destroyed by vandals. It is unacceptable and a problem faced by many Councils.

“This policy will ensure we have a consistent approach to deterring vandalism in the first place and with stronger enforcement measures.

“It is a sensible approach considering how hard it is to catch people in the act of vandalism and we will continue to work with Police and the community on the best solution.

“I am also interested to know just how widespread it is here on the Coast so am asking for more investigation into that and see if there are is anything further we can do to make the Policy even stronger.”

New landfill will ensure delivery of essential waste management services continue

Council has approved the construction of a new landfill cell (cell 4.4) at Buttonderry Waste Management Facility, which will enable Council to continue its delivery of essential waste management services to Central Coast households and businesses.

Council Administrator Dick Persson AM said this project forms part of Council’s ongoing program for the construction of new landfill cells, which are essential for maintaining Council’s capacity to manage waste across the Central Coast.

“The construction of a new landfill cell at Council’s Buttonderry Waste Management Facility will ensure the facility can continue to carry out its core function of waste management – a service that impacts and benefits the entire Central Coast community,” said Mr Persson.

Consistent with forecasts, the current landfill cell (cell 4.3) that was completed in 2013 is nearing capacity and Council is required to construct the next new cell to continue its landfilling operations.

The total budget for the construction of the new landfill cell is $9M, which will be funded using internal restricted funds reserved to fund future waste facilities and infrastructure. These funds have been generated from income received through the operation of Council’s waste management facilities over previous years.

Construction of the landfill cell 4.4 will take approximately ten months and will fall across the 20-21 and 21-22 financial years, in accordance with Council’s 2020-21 capital works budget. Construction is scheduled to commence in March 2021 with projected completion in December 2021.

Council remains committed to resource recovery and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, with 41 percent (69,732 tonnes of a total of 168,243 tonnes) of waste disposed of through household bins and kerbside collections on the Coast being diverted from landfill.

Policy for all creatures great and small

Central Coast Council has adopted a policy that sets minimum standards for keeping animals in residential areas.

Administrator Dick Persson AM said the policy allowed people in residential areas to keep certain animals while ensuring public health and safety requirements are met.

“This policy strikes a balance for residents wanting to keep chickens, birds or bees with the requirements for public health and safety, particularly for their neighbours,” Mr Persson said.

“The policy also ensures this keeping of animals does not impact on native wildlife.”

The policy does not apply to dogs and cats as they are covered in the Companion Animals Act.

Revised plan adopted to make it easier for community to participate in planning

Council’s revised Community Participation Plan has been adopted following a period of community consultation and will now be implemented.

The Central Coast Community Participation Plan (CPP) is designed to make participation in planning clearer and easier for the local community. It does this by setting out in one place the different types of applications, planning proposals, policies and strategies, the community participation objectives which are used to guide community engagement, how and when the community can participate in the planning system, and Council’s role in determining planning matters.

Council Administrator Dick Persson AM said that said access to simple and easy to understand planning information encourages community participation.

“Council recognises that community participation in planning matters creates a shared sense of purpose, direction and understanding of the need to manage growth and change, while preserving local character,” Mr Persson said.

“The Plan improves the process that generates two-way engagement that recognises and embraces community knowledge, ideas and expertise.

“The revised Plan provides a more informative and comprehensive Plan enabling us to work in partnership with the community in planning matters.”

The revised Community Participation Plan was updated following a review of the initial implementation period and to reflect any new and related legislative changes or issues since it was first adopted in 2019.

Tenders declined for demolition of Broadwater site

Council has resolved to decline all tender submissions associated with the Broadwater site demolition and continue to sell the site as it currently stands.

Council had planned to demolish the dilapidated ‘Broadwater’ building located at 53-71 Mann Street, Gosford whilst considering the best option for the sites long term future usage.

A tender for these works were issued in August to October 2020 and Council was in the process of evaluating the twelve tender submissions.

In response to Council’s financial crisis and as part of the Business Recovery Plan, Council is progressing the sale of assets which are underperforming or surplus to Council’s current and future needs.  The Broadwater site was included in the Tranche 1 group of properties which were resolved to be sold in September 2020. At this time, the tender evaluations for the Broadwater building demolition were placed on hold. 

The formal resolution to decline all tenders associated with the Broadwater demolition provides for the progression of the sites for sale.  Valuations have already been undertaken and real estate agents near appointment.  Contracts are currently being prepared with expectation to market the properties in March 2021. To date there has been a high level of interest in these properties and discussions are also being held with Government agencies who may purchase sites of strategic interest directly from Council.

Further information on Council’s financial situation and asset sales can be viewed on Council’s website.

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Last updated : Wed 24 Feb 2021