Highlights of the 23 November 2020 Council Meeting

Date

Monday, 23 November 2020

Release

Council to hold Extraordinary Meeting on Thursday 26 November

Central Coast Council will hold an Extraordinary Meeting on Thursday, 26 November 2020 at the Wyong Chambers at 1.00pm for consideration of a report regarding a possible Special Rate Variation by Council.

Council Meeting change in 2021

An Ordinary Council Meeting will now be conducted on Wednesday 27 January 2021 at 6.30pm, rather than on Monday, 25 January 2021 at the Gosford Chambers.

Council continues to take steps toward financial recovery

Central Coast Council has provided another status report on the Business Recovery Plan. 

Actions taken so far include:

  • Council’s acceptance of a $50 million loan from a top tier financial institution at an interest rate below 2%
  • Negotiations commencing for a loan to secure $50-$100m of capital works
  • Underperforming property assets have been identified and prioritised for possible sale
  • A complete review of Council’s 20/21 operating budget and capital program
  • An opportunities log developed detailing ways to improve Council’s financial position
  • A review of all monthly and quarterly Budget Pack financial reporting assumptions
  • Finalising the first phase engagement for the forensic audit with KPMG

Council Administrator, Mr Dick Persson AM said Council continues to closely monitor, track and reconcile its cash position on a daily basis.

“Progress has been made on identifying and mitigating the key causes for the financial situation that Council finds itself in”, Mr Persson said.

“The objective of the Business Recovery Plan is to achieve financial recovery and sustainability by continuing to focus on the intake of cash and expenditure reduction, coupled with more sustainable cash preservation initiatives and strategies. 

“Notwithstanding, I am confident we will be able to set a path that will get us to where we need to be. I will consult to the maximum extent possible about the best mix of options.”

Mr Malcolm Ryan was also appointed as a temporary Chief Operating Officer.  He will focus on planning matters and provide overarching leadership with respect to Council’s information management and technology systems.

Over $13million funding secured in first quarter for local projects

Council has secured a total of $13,773,892 funding from both the Australian and NSW Governments in the first quarter of this financial year.

Council Administrator, Mr Dick Persson AM said external funding is vital for the delivery of regional infrastructure and services.

“We are thankful to both the Australian and NSW Government for funding new urban infrastructure, sporting facilities and a business support project which benefits the Central Coast region.

“This funding includes $11million from the NSW Government towards the construction of an indoor multi-purpose sport and recreation centre at the Central Coast Regional Sporting & Recreation Complex at Tuggerah,” Mr Persson said.

These latest contributions follow significant external funding in the previous financial year where Council received $111.3 million funding for 104 projects, and numerous significant regional projects being funded as a result of Council and community advocacy during 2019 elections.  

An online tool called ‘Grant Finder’ has been implemented this year on Council’s website to help local businesses and community groups easily find all relevant grant funding opportunities offered by both government and private corporations. This tool also provides Council staff with an efficient way to identify and seek external funding.

“I commend staff on their ongoing efforts and ability to secure funding from all levels of Government to help deliver important projects for the community,” Mr Persson continued.

“Council is committed to developing and implementing strategies to proactively seek grant funding opportunities and will continue to advocate for funding during State and Federal budget cycles.”

Coast’s tourism sector bouncing back

The Central Coast tourism sector has rallied strongly and is set for a bumper summer season after being hit hard by COVID-19 lockdowns.

An update on Council’s Destination Management Plan 2018-2021 outlined positive signs for tourism across the region.

Council Administrator, Mr Dick Persson AM said driving tourism and visitor expenditure is vital for the Central Coast economy.

“Bush fires, floods and the global COVID-19 pandemic have certainly taken their toll on the Central Coast economy, however there are now very positive signs for tourism on the Central Coast with all indicators pointing to our busiest summer season yet,” Mr Persson said.

“As COVID-19 restrictions eased, restaurant spending numbers have been particularly impressive since April – we’ve seen a year-on-year increase of 100 percent in The Entrance, over 30 percent in Terrigal and Umina, and 20 percent in Woy Woy, compared to a 50 percent decrease in Sydney.”

The Central Coast Destination Management Plan 2018-2021 seeks to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the region’s tourism sector, including securing grant funding to deliver targeted campaigns and initiatives.

Plans to revitalise Gosford’s waterfront area continue

Ways to implement adopted plans to revitalise Gosford waterfront precinct continue to be explored so this destination can reach its full potential and deliver a range of economic, cultural, and social benefits for the region and community.

Council Administrator, Mr Dick Persson AM said that Council remains committed to working with the State Government and collaborating with the Greater Sydney Commission to explore opportunities for the Waterfront Precinct.

“Moving forward we need to ensure that projects and development complement the precinct’s natural assets and environment and address important considerations such as traffic and hearing from a range of community views,” said Mr Persson.

“We’re confident that collaborative solutions can be found and that a significant regional community precinct can be realised.”

Already, planning and actions for the foreshore’s revitalisation are occurring from Council strategies such as the Interim Local Strategic Planning Statement and Somersby to Erina Corridor Strategy and will deliver public spaces that complement activity around Gosford CBD, town centres and foreshores.

Wise water use urged as water restrictions end

Central Coast residents are being encouraged to continue their water-saving ways, even though Level 1 water restrictions will be lifted on 7 December 2020.

Water Wise Rules will come into effect as eastern Australia prepares for a summer of higher-than-average rainfall, thanks to the current La Nina weather pattern.

After drought-breaking rain early in the year, and substantial late winter and spring rain, Mangrove Creek Dam’s storage is now 61.04% (as at Sunday 22 November 2020). Level 1 water restrictions came into effect in February 2020 when the dam’s storage dropped to 50 per cent.

With a view to ensuring long-term water security for the region, Council will continue to promote the “Live to 150L message”, encouraging residents to use no more than 150 litres of water per person per day. A range of resources including a water use calculator, water wise plant selector, water-saving tips and rainwater tank maintenance guide can be found at the Love Water website, centralcoast.nsw.gov.au/lovewater.

Council Administrator, Mr Dick Persson AM said the responsible use of water is part of ensuring the ongoing security of the coast’s water supply.

“We know that climate variability and a growing population are just some of the factors that will place pressure on the water supply, so simple habit changes can make a real difference in the amount of water a household uses.

“As well as making smart choices about their personal water use, I also encourage residents to get involved in Council’s community consultation project which is exploring the best options for our long-term water supply,” Mr Persson said.

For more information on how to be involved in planning our water future, visit centralcoast.nsw.gov.au/waterplan.

Councillor expenses brought into line with similar Councils

Council tonight adopted an amended Councillor Expenses and Facilities Policy that will result in more than half a million dollars’ worth of budgeted savings.

Changes to the policy were made based on low claims from previous years and to align with other similar sized councils, reflecting a more reasonable level of reimbursements that can be claimed by the Mayor and Councillors each year.

Council Administrator, Mr Dick Persson AM said that current Councillors’ expenditure had not been excessive, and the updated Policy will continue to provide accountability and transparency of Councillor spend into the future.

“In order for elected officials at any level to carry out their civic duties, there needs to be access to recoup costs when carrying out official Council business,” Mr Persson said.

“This policy explicitly sets out what can be claimed, ensures there are strict processes, limits amount and frequency, and stipulates the requirement of public record of all claims, helping to assure there are no private or political benefits gained.”

Changes were made earlier in the year following an internal audit in accordance with the provisions of the policy, with further review to set limits in line with community expectations. The draft Policy was placed on exhibition earlier this year with no submissions received. 

It is noted that the Mayor and Councillors to whom this policy applies are currently suspended.

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Last updated : Tue 24 Nov 2020