More Frequent Disasters Prompts Council Funding Change
Published on 28 July 2022
The growing number of natural disasters that are affecting the Coffs Harbour local government area has prompted Council to change the way it applies for funds to the NSW Government to recover the costs involved in emergency repairs.
“Under our previous funding option, known as ‘Opt-out’, the NSW Government would fund 100% of eligible emergency works for roads, bridges and other essential public infrastructure,” said Steve Bayliss, Council’s Acting Director Business Services.
“But the emergency works also had to be completed within 21 days and many costs incurred by Council were ineligible to be recovered – including waste processing charges, staff costs and use of Council’s plant and equipment.
“With more and more frequent events – and cases where one disaster comes along immediately after a previous one – we thought we needed to review the arrangement.”
Under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement program, councils can adopt an ‘Opt-in’ option which extends the time limit to complete emergency works to three months. Councils are also able to claim funds for day labour, internal plant and equipment hire and eligible waste processing charges.
“For example, we’ve spent $1.9m on repairing damage from the February 2022 flood including $474,000 in staff and waste processing costs which we can’t claim back,” added Mr Bayliss.
“The Opt-In model allows Council to claim the employee costs and waste processing charges although it does have a much higher up-front contribution cap of $368,000 in our case, which is a calculation based on our rate revenue.
“Despite this, the cost to Council of the February 2022 flood would’ve been $135,000 less under the Opt-In model.”
Councillors voted to adopt the ‘Opt-in’ model of the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements and notify Resilience NSW of the change.