Fit for the Future
The NSW Government has been working with local councils since 2011 to achieve our shared vision of strengthening local communities through a reform program called 'Fit for the Future'.
An independent assessment of Coffs Harbour City Council for the Fit for the Future (FFTF) plan has found that the ongoing strategies put in place by Council will ensure it will be financially sustainable by the target date: specifically that Council will meet or show sufficient improvement in the seven FFTF benchmarks – covering financial sustainability, efficiency and infrastructure and service management – that need to be reached by 2019/2020.
The independent report concluded that “Council’s proposal includes strategies that are appropriate and robust and have a high degree of confidence attached to their resulting impact on financial sustainability outcomes and indicators”.
The strategies include:
· The Transformation to Sustainability (T2S) Program – a restructure and review of Council’s operations that is forecast to make savings of up to $3.2m per year by 2017/2018.
· The Special Rate Variations (SRV) which will generate an additional $6.2m after three years for community infrastructure maintenance and renewal.
· Improving asset management to optimise maintenance costs, asset renewals and depreciation and to find more efficient ways to deal with the backlog of repairs and replacements.
· Additional revenue opportunities such as growing the income from Council’s commercial business units and the commercialisation of the organisation’s CityWorks construction division.
(More information on these strategies can be found below).
Fit for the Future Timeline and Submissions
All NSW Councils were obliged to submit their Fit for the Future proposals by 30 June 2015 for assessment by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). Submissions are being invited on the proposals from communities by the NSW Government until 31 July 2015.
IPART Approves Council’s Application to Increase Rates
The Independent Pricing and
Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved Council’s application for a two-year
Special Rate Variation (SRV).
The permanent two-year SRV
of 8.14% for 2015/16 and 7.75% for 2016/17 includes the rate peg increase of
2.4% for 2015/16 and an anticipated rate peg increase of 3% for 2016/17.
Council carried out a
wide-ranging public consultation on the proposed SRV which included a brochure
and reply-paid postcard for responses sent to all ratepayers, a public online
survey and a survey of Council’s Online Survey Panel.
Around 5,500 postcards were
returned to Council and approximately 500 people responded to the online
survey. The consultation revealed significant opposition to the SRV with the
main concern being the affordability of the rate increase.
This opposition was noted
by IPART, but the Tribunal also highlighted Council’s response to the
affordability issue in proposing the freezing and reduction of certain charges
to reduce the impact of the ordinary rate increase on the total rate bill. This
played a key part in the Tribunal’s decision to approve Council’s application.
With the price freeze in
water and sewer annual charges and a reduced increase in water usage charges -
the overall increase in annual bills will be limited to no more than
approximately 3.9% for the average urban ratepayer.
In addition, after the
first year, Council will again review the progress achieved from its
Transformation to Sustainability Program and other financial sustainability
initiatives currently underway, and consider whether the rate increase proposed
for 2016/17 is necessary.
The SRV rate increase will
generate an approximate additional $4.2 million (above the rate pegging
allowances) in rate revenue by the second year – which will be dedicated to
asset maintenance and renewal to prevent the further deterioration of our
public infrastructure assets, such as roads, bridges, buildings, playgrounds
While rate increases are never welcome, the reality
is that this rate rise is a necessary part of a wider, overall strategy to
secure Council’s financial sustainability and - in particular - help improve
the financial position of Council’s General Fund to ensure it can meet
community expectations for services into the future.
If any ratepayers are experiencing difficulties in rate bill commitments
– they should not hesitate to contact Council’s Rates Section on (02) 6648 4444
to discuss their situation, as Council is always willing to work with
ratepayers experiencing financial difficulties.
Council’s formal application can be viewed on the IPART website (click on the link).
to Sustainability Project (T2S)
Council knows that increasing rates is only part of
the solution to becoming financially sustainable. Council itself needs to
reduce costs and find further efficiencies in the way we deliver services.
With this as a focus, a ‘Transformation to Sustainability’ (T2S)
project is underway aimed at driving further improvements to services in terms
of cost-effectiveness and productivity.
Changes to Council’s senior management structure
have already been completed. Further improvement initiatives are also underway
with more to be rolled out over the next 12 months. Outcomes from the T2S
project are projected to produce annual savings of approximately $3.2 million
after three years.
In addition to this project, Council will continue
to look for ways to increase profits through its business units and the
commercialisation of its CityWorks construction division, as well as further
improvement in our management of public assets to ensure we get the most value
Update on 2014/15 SRV Projects
The additional rate funds associated with the rate
increase approved for 2014/2015, like the approved rate increases for the next
two years, have been allocated to increase our investment in the maintenance
and renewal of public assets.
The additional rates funds generated by a rate rise
for 2014/2015 have been used to fund a program of priority works including:
Works – Bonville Headland, Sawtell
Works – Bonville Street, Coffs Harbour
Works – Fitzgerald Street, Coffs Harbour
Works – Jordan Esplanade, Coffs Harbour
Works – Gross Michel Road, Korora
Retaining Wall – Coffs Creek Park
Footbridge – Thompsons Road, Coffs Harbour
of BBQs – Boronia Park, Sawtell
of BBQs – Mullaway
Works – Lowanna Hall
Works – Marina Drive Amenities
Works – Beryl Street Amenities
Want to know more?
Our current situation
What have we been doing to improve our situation?
How do our general rates compare to other similar councils?
Where will your rates be spent?
What impact will the rate increases have on your rate bill?
Frequently Asked Questions