Council continues progress towards financial recovery with new financial leadership and identification of $40.5million reduction in the capital works program for 2020/21.
Mayor Lisa Matthews said Council’s 100 Day Plan is a solid framework guiding actions towards financial recovery and has been shared with all government stakeholders.
“We are getting on with our promise to the community to sort out these serious financial matters,” said Mayor Matthews.
“We welcome Council’s new Chief Financial Officer Natalia Cowley starting in her role tomorrow; we have appointed the forensic financial auditors and formed a Finance Committee to oversee actions.”
Acting CEO Jamie Loader said Council was also progressing enquiries for a commercial loan facility and overdraft, amongst other actions.
“$40.5million in capital works program reduction for 2020/21 will be proposed for consideration as part of the quarterly budget adjustments in November this year. The assessment of these reductions balanced proceeding with external grant or co-funded projects; meeting legislative requirements or public safety and risk needs; and maintaining gainful employment of the existing permanent workforce,” said Mr Loader.
“Additionally, changes have been made to Council’s internal financial controls, daily monitoring of cash flow is in place and daily expenditure review is undertaken, ensuring that suppliers are kept informed of Council’s payment controls.”
Councillors adopted their response to the Notice of Intention to Issue a Suspension Order made by the State Government Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock on 21 October 2020. The Mayor will now provide the final submission to the Minister by the due date of 28 October.
Council puts in place improved guidelines for Council’s management of land transactions
The first Central Coast Land Transaction Policy has been adopted and provides contemporary, clear and consistent guidelines for Council’s management of land transactions across the whole region.
This policy is a consolidation of the former Gosford City Council’s Land and Property Transactions Policy and Wyong Shire Council’s Property Transactions – Sales and Acquisitions with other policies informing its development.
The consolidated policy provides a framework for Council which will inform decision and directions regarding Council’s property portfolio in a consistent manner across the Local Government Area, in accordance with relevant legislation, and ensuring any review of Council’s land portfolio is a public process.
The former Wyong Shire Council and the former Gosford City Council both had similar Land and Property transaction policies. The development of this policy allowed both former policies to be merged together whilst removing any areas that were unclear or contradictory. This process also provided an opportunity to update policy guidelines to current best property and land management practices.
In addition to consultation with key Council staff that manage the day to day operations of Council’s property portfolio, the draft Policy was placed on public exhibition from 13 August to 11 September 2020, which provided an opportunity for the community to review and submit comments.
Spotlight on The Entrance Channel and North Entrance erosion
Council tonight received a detailed overview on the history of studies into The Entrance Channel and its management, and an update in relation to the Tuggerah Lakes Coastal Management Program currently underway.
It was acknowledged that there is no simple solution to the waterways’ management and that the provision of a southern training wall may have merit. Council agreed to consider the recommendations of the Tuggerah Lakes Expert Panel and Manly Hydraulics Laboratory in relation to this option.
Council was also advised of the development of an Entrance Management Procedure and Decision Support Tool, which will provide a predictive model that is able to continuously forecast likely future conditions in Tuggerah Lake and at The Entrance based on real time telemetry (lake levels, rainfall, ocean levels). This modelling will support recommendations for appropriate management actions. The work is expected to be completed by March 2021.
Council also received an overview of the actions taken at The Entrance North following the coastal erosion emergency in July 2020.
Council to identify affordable housing opportunities using Council land
Council will develop a Council Affordable Housing Land (CAHL) Proposal to help address the growing demand for affordable housing on the Central Coast.
The CAHL Proposal will identify suitable sites owned by Council which could be utilised for affordable housing partnerships.
Mayor Lisa Matthews said that the CAHL Proposal forms part of Council’s Affordable Housing Strategy and is a direct response to the lack of affordable housing currently available to meet increasing demand on the Central Coast.
“Most of the need for affordable housing in the Central Coast is from very low income households, and from the bottom half of the lower income band and lower income families,” said Mayor Matthews.
“Affordable rental is particularly important for these groups however, the private market is not providing affordable accommodation, and is unlikely to do so even with strong planning intervention.
“The direct creation of social and affordable rental housing for diverse groups including lower income key workers, older pensioners and retirees, people with a disability, people at risk of homelessness, very low and low income families will be necessary to meet the growing need for such housing in the future.”