Hornsby Shire Council
Attachment to Report No. ST3/09 Page 0
REPORT 0F THE COUNCILLOR WORKSHOP
SATURDAY 28th FEBRUARY to
HORNSBY SHIRE COUNCIL
Hornsby Shire Council
Attachment to Report No. ST3/09 Page 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section A - Integrated Planning and Community Consultation........... 1-3
Section B - Identification of Councillor’s 4yr priorities..................... 4-12
Section C – Identification of Councillor’s 1yr Priorities.................. 13-15
Section D – Potential Revenue Raising or Cost Saving Strategies... 16-18
Appendix I - Attendance............................................................................. 19
Appendix II – Rate Variation.................................................................. 20-21
Appendix III – Budget Update................................................................ 22-24
Hornsby Shire Council
Attachment to Report No. ST3/09 Page 2
1. Open/Community Forum Meetings
The group had a discussion as to whether Open/Community Forum Meetings should continue to be held. It was agreed that Open Forum meetings are a good way for the community to have direct contact with Councillors and should be continued. Some suggestions as to how to make them more effective included:
· The possibility of holding no meetings or fewer meetings during 2009, while the community desire for such meetings was confirmed and other strategies for community consultation considered. Council reports stated that in 2007 the meetings received positive feedback from the residents who attended and were very popular, but in 2008 the meetings were less well attended and took on more of a political perspective. Additionally the ‘same’ faces’ seemed to be there at different Forums. Ceasing or limiting the meetings for 2009 may encourage more people to attend.
· The possibility of moving away from the “open forum” title to one that better explains the purpose of the meetings. This may help get the message out to the community that there is an opportunity for them to get together with Councillors to express their concerns.
· Holding meetings at different times of the day to attract other demographics.
· Varying the locations from previous years to improve accessibility and attendance
· Being more strategic in the way the meetings are held by making them more appealing and less intimidating to residents. Possibly changing the physical set up (i.e. from the long table of Councillors and Executives to a less defensive arrangement).
· The possibility of running different types of less formal events that allow the community to have the same kind of contact with Councillors and staff. For example, a BBQ similar to the one held at Kilpac Park, Epping, which was held on a Saturday morning, managing to attract around 200 residents.
At the same time as this is happening it is important for Council to explore as many opportunities for community engagement/consultation as possible.
2. Integrated Planning Systems - Council Planning Models
Council is required by the Department of Local Government (DLG) to develop a Community Strategic Plan. The purpose of this Plan is to ascertain the views and the priorities of the community over the next 10 years. The Community Strategic plan covers the next ten years - as a minimum - so that Council can incorporate and address those priorities in its planning processes i.e. Council’s 4 year delivery Plan and one year Management Plan.
DLG Guidelines will be releasing its guidelines for the Integrated Planning Process in April 2009. These Plans underpin the Community and Management Plans.
Council will report back to Councillors through the Annual Report/ Management Plan. Quarterly reporting on the Management Plan will not be required but will most likely continue as a part of good business practice in any event.
The Integrated Planning Process will also involve Council producing other plans in line with, and in addition to, the 10 year Community Plan, the 4 year Delivery Plan and the 1 year Management Plan. These include a Strategic Asset Management Plan (minimum 10 year plan), Long Term Financial Planning (minimum 10 year plan) and Workforce Planning (minimum 4 year plan).
As a part of the development of the Community Plan, Council is also required to do a Community Engagement Plan, which will involve various forms of engagement with the community. These may include community panels, surveys, and online forums such as Bang the Table and targeted engagement, with specific groups such as businesses, social groups etc.
As a part of Council’s on going policy development, and in keeping with the new Integrated Planning System, data will be gathered from various sources- including Census and the Police - about all areas of Hornsby Shire, to give Council a snap shot of Hornsby Shire residents. This information will then be used to and track and assess whether Council is improving or impacting on the community as a consequence of the implementation of Council’s delivery and Management Plans.
3. Current and Future Planning Processes -
¡ The Planning Web and Sustainability 2020 Plan
In its Sustainability 2020 Plan Council uses a Planning Web with 5 key focus areas, viz.
¡ Society and Culture,
¡ Human Habitat, and
The Planning Web assists Council’s decision-making processes by providing a framework which demonstrates how all of these elements link. The Planning Web has been constructed so that it is flexible and does not constrain the Council or the staff, yet achieves its key purpose of providing better integrated outcome across all Divisions, and assisting Council in measuring its success/outcomes.
It was suggested by Management, and agreed by Councillors, that these focus areas and this framework would also be suitable for Council’s Management Plan.
Feedback from staff regarding the Planning Web included:
· People involved in the Sustainable Action Committee have said that they were generally comfortable that this sort of framework would work for them.
· It will take about two years for Council to undertake all the engagement with the community, and will be reporting back to Council many times during this period. It is in the very early stages right now, and there will be many opportunities for Councillors to be involved in the process.
· Existing resources will be used as much as possible.
¡ Community Consultation
Councillors and The Executive Committee (ExCo) discussed the different strategies currently used - and/or which could be used in the future - to consult with and gain feedback from the community. These included:
· Using current planning documents - 90% of which have already been endorsed by Council. These plans include strategies and contain research that can be used now rather than starting the whole process from the beginning. Most of these have already had community input and just need to be pulled together into a useable format;
· The suitability of consultation/ feedback tools. They must be designed to reach the silent community as well as the ‘squeaky wheels’. Residents often do not acknowledge correspondence from Council. More creative formats will be needed to reach the wider community;
· Drop in sessions, visits to the youth centres, setting up an approachable stall at community events or school fetes to get feedback from the community in a more relaxed and fun environment;
IDENTIFICATION OF COUNCILLOR’S FOUR-YEAR PRIORITIES
1. Brick Pit Stadium
An update was provided on the Brick Pit Stadium project. Key points were:
· Cost of an extension is $2M, which is unfunded at the moment;
· Do not need to waste money doing a study on the needs of the facility, as we already know what is required. A feasibility study would cost $20,000;
· The tender for the Golf Driving Range was sent out with two responses. Currently tracking down an independent person to assess the tenders, with a Report due to the May Ordinary Meeting;
· The Golf Driving Range will be a source of income for the Council, approximately $50,000 per year;
· Discussions are currently underway as to how to manage the whole facility, and the possibility of outsourcing the canteen facilities
· Looking at other facilities to see how they operate their canteens.
Discussions and suggestions regarding the Brick Pit Stadium and the possible extensions included:
· The general agreement that the Brick Pit should be extended as it will bring in an extra $50,000 profit per year to the Council. Bringing the profit total to $150,000 per year
· The possibility of outsourcing certain parts or the whole of the operation;
· Concerns regarding outsourcing and the handing over of maintenance of a Council asset to external sources and the possible risks.
Report to be brought back to Council containing information regarding outsourcing specific parts of the facility and the potential benefits and risks.
2. Kangaroo Point
The Master Plan for this property is now with the Environment Division.
A Report is due to come to the March Ordinary Meeting, along with other open space areas throughout the Shire.
3. Asset rationalisation
There is an approximate $10M which will need to be included in a community communication process to assist in prioritising how this money should most effectively be used across various assets. Council also needs to develop more clearly a strategy for classifying different asset types.
Bring this issue back to a Workshop Meeting and discuss further in the context of the open space that was identified by the previous Council as being surplus.
4. Heritage Conservation areas
Council has written to the Department of Planning to request that they urgently reinstate Hornsby’s draft heritage conservation areas to allow us to consider the heritage matters of those sites. Have not received a response, but Council is actively pursuing this issue.
Interested Councillors to organise a meeting with the Executive Manager, Planning, (Scott Philips) to discuss further.
The Development Application for a slight extension has been lodged.
A Report will be coming to Council regarding fee setting and the management of this site.
Issues concerning non-natural watercourse drains across private properties were raised:
· Old ones have not been maintained for a number of years and are causing problems;
· Steps to cover many of these drains have not been taken, as there is not the funding for them. The money is currently being used to fund other high priority drainage issues within the Shire;
· Hydraulic issues that may cause flooding and environmental problems have also stopped many of them from being piped;
· Council considering being more flexible with the policy that was set in the early 90’s, to allow assessment of these drains and the possibility for them to be piped over at the expense of the owner.
In-principle agreement to fill the quarry has been agreed to by the current Council.
It is possible that it could take up to five years for environmental approvals to go ahead with this development and there is no guarantee that they would give approval for the quarry to be filled.
At the workshop meeting held on 28 January 2009, Council asked to meet again with potential tenderers, however after seeking legal advice, Council’s solicitor has advised not to do this.
A consultant has been sourced from GHB to come to speak to Councillors on Wednesday 25 March 2009 regarding this issue. A paper will be circulated prior to this day.
NOTE: at this point in the discussion it became clear that in order for decisions to be made (and actions undertaken) regarding some of the key priorities needing to be ‘actioned’ over the next four years, a rate variation would need to be sought from the Minister. In an effort to assist Councillors to better understand what the Minister is likely to take into account (and potentially agree to) regarding a rate variation for Hornsby, the General Manager gave presentation which identified the key issues and challenges.
See Appendix II
The Discussion regarding the future of Hornsby Pool included the following points:
· General thoughts about what a better facility would be. An 8 lane, 50 metre pool, picnic and BBQ areas, change rooms, learn to swim pool, toddler pool, indoor pool and water slide;
· The location – current location is the best logistical spot for the pool. It is near the train, has bus access and good parking close to schools. Hornsby is a hub for 3 different lines coming into the train station. It is the most accessible centre for the Shire;
· Different options and costs of building a new Hornsby Pool facility – To build a brand new facility could cost between $26M and $30M, to do a rebuild of the facility, which would include a rebuild of the 50 metre pool, indoor 25 metre learn to swim pool and kiddy pool for around $15M;
· Which option would generate more income for the Council in the future?
· Timeframes – If the process were started now, it would take around four years to complete a new facility. If it was done as a staged development, the current facility could remain open.
A report to be brought to Council based on discussion of two options including financial information.
There was a discussion regarding the condition and use of existing pools and future requirements for swimming pool facilities in the Shire (Excluding Hornsby): key points were:
· Estimated costs are high due to Council choosing more viable options. The pools need to last;
· The number of competition swimming facilities around the area that make it hard for Council’s pools. Macquarie Uni, Ryde, Carlingford Fitness First, Homebush Olympic Park;
· The problem that Hornsby Council’s pools have evolved over time and there has never been a strategic plan done as to where the facilities should be located;
· Is there a need for so many pools?
· Options of leasing out some of our pools to private companies to help reduce running costs of providing the Shire with these facilities;
· Possibility of building 2 great centres evenly spaced throughout the Shire and closing some of the other pools throughout the Shire in order to provide them. If great facilities are going to be provided for the Shire then it may be easier to sell the idea of closing some of the current ones;
· Could consider the Housing Strategy coming up when looking at the location of Shire pools. Where are they going to have the most demand?
· The closing of Epping pool is being considered as it is due for a major upgrade and is in a location with many other superior surrounding facilities;
· Possibly worth retaining the facilely in Galston due to the Housing Strategy and the expected growth of the area. Could outsource this facility to make it less costly to Council;
· Concern over the viability of Berowra Pool. It is going to increase the total loss for Council, as it will not produce any income for the Council;
· Agreement that if we can maintain or decrease our net loss that the aquatic centres throughout the Shire bring to the Council, then we can consider new facilities. The subsidies of aquatic centres should be capped;
Report be brought to Council with information regarding the possibility of outsourcing some of our facilities particularly Epping and Galston.
At this point in the discussion an update of Council’s current finances was presented – the key points included:
· Decrease in Development Application’s
· Decrease of investment income - $786,000
· Election restricted access. Used to provide $85,000 a year, now it is $200,000 a year that we need to set aside.
· Haven’t found any asset sales. Have started to borrow more.
Issues regarding sporting fields included:
· The sporting fields throughout the Shire are heavily used, so there is a lot of impact on the areas;
· Water restrictions make it harder for us to maintain these fields. There is never enough money to put into further water saving;
· Turf wickets are very expensive to maintain;
· We have a large number of sporting fields throughout the shire compared with other Council’s, but in terms of expectation from the community we are 11 playing fields short. We are trying to focus more on unstructured recreation, such as biking to help cope with this expectation;
· Hornsby Council has a good reputation for meeting the expectations of the community during wet weather by letting many games go ahead. This is getting much harder to maintain;
· There is no money to create new fields, but the money to maintain the current levels is within the budget. This is getting much harder to maintain and options to help keep the current levels of maintenance may need to include reducing the amount of training that is done on these fields;
· Council is already charging the most compared to other Councils in terms of fees;
· Looking into selling off some of the small reserves to produce more money to be spent on parks.
Discussions regarding the utilisation of Council’s Community Centres included:
· There are 24 community centres within the Shire. When you look at the utilisation over the whole day they do not seem to be very utilised. But when you look at the peak times of the day their utilisation is very high;
· How can we increase the utilisation during off peak times? Could lease out some/parts of facilities to organizations giving Council guaranteed rental income for the whole day;
· Suggestion for a large multi-cultural centre in the centre of Hornsby. Possible location being the William Street car park. Put car park two levels underground with the centre on top. Possibly have residential units on top of this. Could possibly enter into a partnership with a private organisation to under take this type of project;
· Looking at using the funds from sale of some other properties towards community centres;
· Other options for large facilities in the Shire include the RSL war memorial hall. The RSL has come to the Council regarding this issue, it may be worth exploring the option of renovating this centre for use as a large Hornsby Community Facility rather than building a completely new complex;
· With the limited funding available, if we were prepared to prioritise our current facilities we could deal with them one at a time using mainly internal resources. If they were to be looked at all at once the project would require a lot of extra funding;
· Cannot rely heavily on Section 94 contributions for these facilities, as they do not only service the new community, but also the old community. Only a portion of the costs could be used;
· Report be brought to Council providing information on the viability of private partnerships and other options.
Update was provided on current Council Assets including:
· Roads to Recovery Program – In the process of receiving funds for this. $2.5M. Council must then comply with their requirements and maintain agreed expenditure;
· Council has not been setting aside enough money to maintain some assets, and had a short fall that equated to approximately $4M. This is progressively being caught up;
· In comparison to other Councils, Hornsby is not doing too badly;
· Council is putting together a list in terms of Local Open Space, which will be coming back to a workshop meeting;
· The Independent Regulatory and Pricing Tribunal (IPART) is now understood to be the price fixing instrumentality for the State Government. Things such as travel tickets, street lighting and Development Application fees all fall into IPART’s area of responsibility;
· Council does not have the ability to influence the type of street lighting we use. The streetlights are not ours; therefore we cannot change the way they are operated.
Discussions regarding lack of development on the Westside of Hornsby included:
· Due to budgetary constraints, Council should do some in-house investigations and have some meetings about the current restrictions and why development is not occurring in this location;
· Get feedback from developers on what is viable and what is not. What kind of developments do they think they can sell? Re-zone if required to help encourage development;
· Misconceptions that ‘if you re-zone then the developers will come’. This has not been the case for the Westside;
· Want to attract developers with long-term interests in the area;
· If Hornsby wants to encourage developers, Council need to be seen as doing something to help the Centre. Continue to improve the streetscape;
· Preference regarding having a commercial centre that allows residents of the Shire, who are predominately white collar, to do their work in the Shire and closer to home. Rather than having everyone leaving the Shire for work;
· Do research first which can then be reflected in a Master Plan;
· The Master Plan could cost between $10,000 and $200,000 depending on what the Council wants from it. Make sure that really extensive preliminary work is done so that the Master Plan can address all of the issues while being cost effective.
The Economic Development Taskforce has previously resolved to do some initial research into why developers are not attracted to the area. They will also be speaking to Real Estate Agents, tapping into UDIA resources to find what is driving people to and from Hornsby.
A Report will be brought back to Council regarding the results of these initiatives
This discussion was conducted in the context of streamlining Council’s decision-making process to ensure that the best outcomes (over he next year and for future years) can be secured by Council in the most effective way.
· Councillors must make a decision regarding the re-structure of the Council within the first 12 months of the term;
· General Manager has undertaken a survey of staff with a 70 – 80% return, to establish the views of the staff on organisational structure and how it impedes on the performance of their duties;
· Possibility of outsourcing on a large scale throughout the Council;
· If the Strategy Division was to go, could its functions be absorbed into other areas of the Council?
· Would like to see a one-stop help desk with customer service officers following through with queries to ensure residents are looked after;
· Suggestion of a ‘three strike’ policy for residents who continually waste the time of the staff. i.e. bill people for extra investigations they want done that go further than what has already been sufficiently undertaken;
· Re-look at the administration of our TPO;
· May be more beneficial to tweak things throughout the whole Council rather than do a major re-structure.
Councillors to provide General Manager with any further suggestions regarding the re-structure of the Council. General Manager will then collate the information ready for review by Councillors.
IDENTIFICATION OF COUNCILLOR’S
1. More Efficient Use of Thornleigh Pound
A suggestions about investigating the process of dealing with stray animals at Thornleigh Pound was presented. The Pound currently destroys approximately 250 animals per year, and it was suggested there are many other Council Pounds that handle this situation better than Thornleigh.
It was also suggested that there needs to be greater community engagement with a view to developing strategies to improve operations at Thornleigh. This could be done at minimal cost by consulting with Vets and Pet Shop owners, pet shops and making better use of Council Website
Councillor Martin to submit a Notice of Motion to an upcoming Council Meeting.
2. Gosford Council to Provide Access for Commuter Berthing
Hornsby is in discussion with Gosford Council regarding greater cooperation from Gosford Council in providing better commuter berthing facilities at Mooney Mooney.
The situation with Gosford raised the broader issue of the availability of parking, for local residents in particular at, locations across the Shire which attract high visitor/ tourist numbers, especially, but not only, at weekends.
It was suggested that introducing a “Sticker System” to the area could help generate some income for Council. This would allow all residents of the Hornsby Shire to park in this area for free, but any visiting residents from surrounding Councils would have to pay a fee to park.
It was agreed that discussions regarding this issue should continue with Gosford Council.
3. Cherrybrook Village
¡ Building of a Ramp
Suggestions were made to help
reduce the traffic congestion along
· Constructing a ramp for pedestrians to have access to the village from Greenway Park, which would reduce the number of cars needing to travel along Shepherds Drive to reach the main entrance;
· Re-zoning of the open space between Cherrybrook Village and Greenway Park. Mirvac have expressed interest in the possible construction of a second main entrance to the Village on the corner near Greenway Park. Council should re-zone this land now, so that when they decide to build the entrance it will not take a longer period of time to then re-zone the land. The constructions could begin as soon as approval has been given;
· If the land was re-zoned and Mirvac decided to construct the second entrance, Council should negotiate the possibility of Mirvac paying for or sharing the cost of building the pedestrian ramp to join Cherrybrook Village to the park. It is estimated that the pedestrian ramp would cost approximately $500,000;
· Along with Greenway Park, there is also the Shire’s largest community hall, car parking areas and a new childcare centre. All of Council’s best assets in the Cherrybrook area are not easily accessible from the Village, which is considered to be the town centre of Cherrybrook. Providing access between these two locations would be very beneficial to the community and would greatly reduce the traffic congestion along Shepherds Drive;
· The possibility of the area being filled to limit the need for a footbridge. Always looking for places to dispose of fill throughout the Shire.
It was agreed that investigations would be done regarding Council’s re-zoning of the open space, with no further commitment to the pedestrian ramp at this stage.
A report will be brought to Council addressing the feasibility of the project, so that it can be discussed further, and any future actions to be taken by Council agreed by Councillors.
regarding issues of the narrowness of the two-lane roundabout on
· Council has received approximately 21 detailed emails from residents concerned with the narrow lanes at the round about on Shepherds Drive. Many residents have had to veer onto the side of the road or up onto the round about, to avoid having accidents with cars in the adjacent lane;
· Plans have already been done looking at widening the corner. The works will cost approximately $300,000 to complete, however they will be one off works, which will not require maintenance;
· Suggestions that the Cherrybrook Village may be willing to consider another exit point for the centre, leaving the current entrance for incoming cars only. This would greatly minimise traffic congestion in this area;
· No possibility of shaving the round about to provide more room and this would reduce the sense of deflection for the cars travelling straight ahead. It would not work like a round about;
· A review of the traffic and parking conditions outside the aquatic centre further up the road. This may also help reduce traffic congestion;
· Concerns regarding the expenditure of the works. Council should explore other options before committing to this;
· Suggestion that Council look at replacing the round about with traffic lights. Would be more costly initially, but may be much more beneficial long term;
· Council has a certain expenditure on roads, so there is money available. It would be up to the Councillors to determine what road projects would be undertaken. Council can then prioritise these projects.
· A Report is to come back to Council exploring other possible solutions for this problem, including the possibility of installing traffic lights.
· Possibly trial some solutions to see if they help the problem before committing to this or any other major project.
Council will need to spend some money on developing concept plans for the rebuild of Hornsby Pool. This is estimated to be approximately $50,000 depending on which option (see above) Council decides to go with.
· Hornsby Council had the third highest legal costs in the state last year. Council has currently budgeted for $1.5M for Land and Environment Court cases, want to aim to reduce this to $750,000;
· There are fewer development applications coming through Council, in particular the ones for income generating developments;
· The new Housing Code removes a lot of uncertainty of issues relating to development applications. This will make it more black and white when determining applications, meaning less should go to the Land and Environment Court;
· There will be a reduced number if applications coming to Council Meetings for determination. There will no longer be a set number of applications per meeting, instead only the necessary applications will be brought to Council for determination.
The Executive Manager –
Planning to investigate possible cost savings regarding the potential reduction
in Das and strategies for solutions before parties go to the Land and
Concern was expressed regarding Council’s below average library expenditure per capita in comparison to other Councils. Some suggestions on how to help this issue included:
· Charging a small fee for Internet usage and some other library facilities. Council currently receives a funding grant from the State Government, which stops us from charging for library memberships, but we could look into charging for certain other services.
· The possibility of leasing out areas to private companies to run Internet kiosks. Council would then not be seen as charging for the usage, and it could provide Council with income to go back into maintenance of our library facilities.
Investigate what services Council is able to charge for in or associated with the Library.
· Possibility of looking at the Johnson Rd, and Arcadia Pony Club sites for expanding the commercial area around the sites, or to be developed as residential;
· Council should consider turning these sites into something that will generate income for the Council.
Councillors expressed their ideas about services that may be able to be cut back or re-assessed to help with reduced Council costs or raising of revenue
Some suggestions included:
· Reviewing the opening hours of the libraries
· Reviewing the policy that states that all development applications for any staff members of Council need to be assessed by a private consultant. Not all applications need to be assessed by a consultant, and it is a waste of councils’ money having this done. Investigation into the requirements for this to be done;
· Looking into the possibility of sub-contracting someone to maintain the sewerage in Galston. New legislation now allows us to do this;
· Reviewing of the 55-65 year services;
· Reviewing youth services;
· Reviewing the process of street sweepers. Are they needed in all areas? Can they be done on demand only? Report to be brought back to Council on this matter;
· The recycling plant in Mt Ku-ring-gai and the possibility of taking in work from outside of Council to generate some income. Would require a new consent to allow Council to do this and would also need to make sure that the appropriate staff and facilities were in place to handle this. Report to be brought back to Council with information regarding the feasibility of this concept;
· Suggestion that Council could start a concrete crushing plant in the industrial area of Asquith, to generate income. Report to be brought back with information on this idea;
· Moving the Executive Planner position from the Strategy division and absorbing parts of this role throughout Council. The salary is currently being paid out of Section 94 funds, which means that this money could be used for other projects requiring Section 94 money;
· Currently Council is employing someone to encourage the community to pursue their own grants. Review this position year by year to see if it is beneficial to the community;
· Considering the option of charging credit card fees. Review the process in which we currently process credit cards to see if it can be done more cost effectively.
Hornsby Mall Ambassadors
During daylight hours, Hornsby Mall Ambassadors operate to offer directions to visitors in the mall, report inappropriate activities and damage and to generally manage things that are happening.
Discussions over whether or not the mall requires ambassadors included:
· Review needs to be done on whether we need the ambassadors. They currently cost Council approximately $100,000 per year;
· Westfield has its own security and information staff, which are there to do that same thing;
· It is more beneficial to Westfield than the Council having these ambassadors in the mall;
· If the CCTV project goes ahead then that would be enough of a deterrent to people causing security issues in the mall.
· ExCo to review the budget in detail and identify any items they suggest for the service delivery review.
· It was agreed that the Hornsby Mall Ambassadors need to be reviewed in the light of the broader review of services
Steve Evans (Deputy Mayor)
Nick Berman (Mayor)
Max Woodward (Executive Manager, Works)
Scott Philips (Executive Manager, Planning)
Robert Ball (General Manager)
Robert Stephens (Executive Manager, Environment)
Glen Magus (Manager, Finance)
Gary Bensley (Executive Manager, Corporate and Community)
Julie Williams (Acting Executive Manager, Strategy)
Libby Darlison (Facilitator)
Lauren Barrett (Note Taker)
¡ Issues taken into account when a rate variation is applied for:
· The ability for the Council to argue their point as to why there would be a direct benefit to the majority of rate payers;
· Knowing the current rates and levy’s that the council has in place;
· What is the income lost due to rate pegging?
· Resident expectations;
· Level of community support to the increase;
· Community needs in relation to recreation and the community benefits of the proposed projects. The risks of proceeding or not proceeding with those projects;
· Analysis of needs verses wants;
· Support of the community;
· How much with the community will gain apposed to how much they will lose;
· Results of public meetings, focus groups etc.;
· That the ratepayers who will be charged are going to receive the benefits;
· Financial point of view that the council doesn’t have any alternatives. Look internally for funds to be used within the council first;
· Supported by well document asset management plans. How you are going to spent it and when;
· Have the needs of ratepayers such as pensioners etc. been addressed;
· Be clear about which type of rate you are applying for;
· Tangible statements objectively assessed to support the increase.
¡ Rate Variation in relation to Hornsby Shire Council
· Need to establish what the basis of the application would be. Possibly Hornsby Pool or the Quarry;
· Options to extend the current Quarry rate for a further period or to continue a levy after the Quarry rate period has finished and use it as a Recreation Facilities levy;
· If we extend the current rate to 10 years from now we will get an extra $11M, with $800,000 being released in the first year and $1.8M in the last. If we extend the rate to 15 years we will get an extra $27M, with $1.3M in the first year and $2.4M in the last and if we extend 20 years we will get an extra $40M
· Broad recreation levy
· Quarry extension levy
· Suggest undertaking a marketing exercise to see what the community thinks about the options, ready to apply for the rate increase. If approved, aim to introduce the increase for 1 July 2010.
· If Council does not receive the rate increase approval, money will be drawn out of the Quarry fund, using some of it to re-fill the Quarry and to re-establish the program pool at Hornsby Pool, closing the rest until the funding is available.
· The Minister generally prefers something that is of benefit to the broader community not just some parts.
BUDGET 09/10 UPDATE
· Councils budget finely tuned
· What is the state of the Budget?
· Next steps in the budget process
¡ 09/10 Budget Challenges
Started with an opening 08/09 deficits of $94,000.
Rate increase is 3% - around ($1.5M)
Labour increased – $1.5M
Debt services increase - $165,000
Street lighting increase - $400,000 increase (takes total bill to $2.418M)
Decrease of GF investment income - $786,000
Decrease DA revenue - $850,000
Election restricted asset - $115,000
No asset sales - $290,000
Moving from 08/09 with a deficit of $94,000 we are now looking at a deficit of $2.6M
· No increase to non-labour expenditure (materials and contracts $28M @ 3% $840K, Capex x $26M @ 3% $780K) - cost control
· Rate increase determined by state government (0.5% = $250K approx)
· Labour based on 50 weeks = approx 4% cost reduction $1M)
Example of maintaining expenditure – Works is still budgeting to spend $150,000 per year on footpaths. They are now building 20% less footpaths each year due to cost increases.
Environment has managed to increase productivity. Have taken on additional work and fulfilled expectations but have reduced positions. Increased expenditure and an increase of 2 big parks and 3 little parks, but with no increase of labour.
The staff cuts fulfil their part by reducing costs and increasing productivity, but the councillors’ increase the output of what they want delivered. They often increase the costs.
· Insurance premium increases
· No increase in State Library funding in 08/09 due to reduced funding for public libraries. 08/09 Library Net Cost $5.0M with $386K funding from State
· Childcare legislation changes $400K + F&C increase
· Significant legal costs as a result of Class 1 appeals to the L&E Court. Only 21% of appeals were dismissed.
· Reduction in S94
· Subsidy to food shop inspection $100K
· Increasing the fees for Council’s childcare centres, so that we can use income made from childcare centres to upgrade them. Making them more self-sufficient and self-funding.
· Childcare centres are an asset of Council, and they should be functioning in the competitive world. They are running at a loss.
· Suggestion of charging rent for our childcare centres. If Council has to invest in the centres to bring them up to the current standards, then it would be fair to bring that into the running costs.
· Expectation from the community that we have always provided an excellent level of service in our childcare centres.
· General agreement that fees need to be increased and rent should be charged. Will have to also be a gradual transition and not something that can take effect to its full extent immediately.
– Legal Costs for L&E Court Cases
· With the reduction of Development Applications then we should have less to refer to the Land and Environment Court.
– Reduction in S94 Funds
· Big reduction in Section 94 funds due to less Development Applications coming through. There has also been a large drop in large developments, which bring in more Section 94 funds.
· Section 94 funds can only be used for capital development.
Future Budget Challenges
· Further street lighting increases (IPART) – 75% over 3 years
· NSW Fire brigade Commissioner
· Removal Payroll Tax Exemption $2M+
Careful consideration during the Budget process:
· No new services unless full recovery
· Phase-ups incurring future recurrent costs
· No expansion of existing services
Currently when anyone leaves the organisation, the position goes to a panel (Exco) for consideration as to whether it needs to be re-filled.
What are the options in attempting to balance the budget?
· Significant reduction in costs/service impact
· Asset sales
· Loan borrowing
· Special rate variation
· Significant reduction in costs/service impact and special rate variation are options that could assist long term, where as asset sales and loan borrowing may only compound the problem.
· Some Councils have different rates for different things throughout the Shire. Not all residents have to pay all the rates, only if they benefit from it. Possibility of doing this at Hornsby.
FURTHER research to be done regarding the possibility of having different rates for different situations and/or and residents across the Shire.