Coffs Harbour City Council will substantially increase expenditure on infrastructure maintenance and renewal in the new financial year under the budget strategy laid out in its Draft 2015/2019 Delivery Program.
Community feedback is being sought on the draft document, which will go on public exhibition for 28 days from Friday, April 24, until Friday, May 22.
The Delivery Program is a four-year blueprint that sets out the course to be followed by Council in helping to implement the Coffs Harbour 2030 Community Strategic Plan. The draft document includes the draft Division Budgets 2015/2019, draft 2015/2016 Operational Plan and draft 2015/2016 Fees and Charges.
The Draft 2015/2019 Delivery Program continues the aim of securing the financial sustainability of the organisation so that it can serve the city into the future. There are two key elements to this - the organisation-wide Transformation to Sustainability (T2S) initiative and a long-term funding strategy based around a further two-year permanent Special Rate Variation (ordinary rate increase).
The T2S project represents a complete overhaul of the way Council carries out its operations. It was initiated last year to address an underlying operational deficit totalling nearly $2m a year. T2S is delivering a ‘step-change’ for Council as a business by re-structuring the organisation and re-engineering the way it does business to save money, maximise efficiencies, build productivity and generate better outcomes. It is expected that within three years, T2S will yield annual savings of around $3.2m.
The proposed Special Rate Variation targets an equally-pressing but separate resourcing need - the spiralling cost of infrastructure maintenance and renewal. Council received IPART approval in 2014/2015 for the first stage of a three-year asset maintenance and renewal funding strategy.
If approved, the proposed follow-on rate rises in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 will generate the additional $4.2m a year needed to maintain the city’s assets to current standards.
In its deliberations, Council listened to the community’s concerns over the affordability of additional rate rises and, as a result, resolved that increases in other rates and charges for the average urban residential property be reduced so that the total increase in all rates and charges in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 is no greater than approximately 3.9%.
This has been achieved by freezing water and sewer service charges for the next three years. In addition, to assist rural ratepayers, on-site septic system inspection fees have also been reduced for the next three years.
“With new confidence in its resourcing into the future, Council can focus on the business of serving the city,” said Council’s Acting General Manager, Andrew Beswick.
“If the rate variation proposal is successful, the funds raised will more than double Council spending in 2015/2016 for a range of needs,” said Mr Beswick. “These include road rehabilitation and other transport asset works, building renewals and open space works.”
Specific details of the programs are included in the draft Delivery Program.
“Other major projects in the Draft 2015/2016 Budget include the $2.29m continuation of the CBD Masterplan Works, $4.48m for the city’s Drainage and Floodworks program and a further $300,000 for the ongoing Public Amenities Upgrade initiative.”
The draft documents – and details on how to lodge a community submission - can be accessed at Council’s website:
Printed copies are also available for viewing at Council’s Administrative Centre (corner of Castle and Coffs Streets) and at local library branches in Coffs Harbour, Toormina and Woolgoolga.
Postal submissions on any issues relating to the draft documents should be sent to: The General Manager, Coffs Harbour City Council, Locked Bag 155, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450.
Submissions close at 5pm on Friday, May 22 2015.