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Funding Our Future
 
 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 and amenities.
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 4000 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). 

 
Transformation 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 for money. 
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: 
·         Road Renewal Works – Bonville Headland, Sawtell
·         Road Renewal Works – Bonville Street, Coffs Harbour
·         Road Renewal Works – Fitzgerald Street, Coffs Harbour
·         Road Renewal Works – Jordan Esplanade, Coffs Harbour
·         Road Renewal Works – Gross Michel Road, Korora
·         Renewal of Retaining Wall – Coffs Creek Park
·         Replace Footbridge – Thompsons Road, Coffs Harbour
·         Replacement of BBQs – Boronia Park, Sawtell
·         Replacement of BBQs – Mullaway
·         Restoration Works – Lowanna Hall
·         Restoration Works – Marina Drive Amenities
·         Restoration Works – Beryl Street Amenities

Want to know more?

 

Our current situation

 

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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