Investment

The Council goes ahead with the request to extend the 13 percent charge increase

Central Coast Council Administrator Rik Hart officially endorsed the Council’s submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal requesting that the current rate increase be maintained for 10 years.

Last year, IPART granted the Council a three-year one-off rate variation of 13 percent plus an annual rate peg from which 13 percent would be eliminated.

At an extraordinary meeting on Feb. 3, the Council resumed the path of raising its rates first announced in September last year, followed by a ream of documents put on public exhibition from Dec. 22 to Jan. 21.

Council Administrator Rik Hart spoke to CCN after the extraordinary meeting.

These documents are part of the IPART submission.

They are: the Draft Revised Community Strategic Plan; the Draft Delivery Program 2022-2025 (including Operational Plan 2022-23); the Draft Resourcing Strategy, which includes the Long-Term Financial Plan, Workforce Management Strategy, and Revised Asset Management Strategy; and the Draft Fees and Charges 2022-23.

If IPART agrees to the continuation, current rates will continue until 2030-31.

The Council said maintaining SV for an additional seven years would allow the Council to generate the required annual surplus needed to meet the annual principal repayment of $ 150M in emergency loans obtained from commercial lenders to resolve the financial crisis in October 2020.

It will also ensure the financial sustainability of the Council by maintaining the current level of services and to fund the continued maintenance of the assets by addressing any deterioration of the current asset base of the Council.

The Council said it can continue to embed productivity improvements throughout the organization, which are necessary to continue to meet higher internal and external expectations within a heavily restructured organization and deliver key priorities as they are adopted in future Community Strategic Plans and Delivery Programs.

As explained in its original IPART submission last year, the Council has: reduced employee costs ($ 30M removed from the structure over six months of which $ 26.1M was from the Council’s General Fund) and materials and contracts ($ 20M structure removed of which $ 13.6M was from the Council. General Fund) in the same period.

It limited capital-making programs to $ 175M annually and sold at least $ 60M in assets.

“In addition, the Council has made wholesale changes to executives and management teams, implemented tighter budget management controls and delivered a wide range of productivity improvements,” the council report said.

It said it has seen an increase in complaints about service levels.

“Our community has indicated that service levels have dropped, as managers and staff seek to deliver both service more efficiently and find productivity solutions, the reality is that maintaining such a noticeable reduction in a short term will inevitably affect service levels, ”the Council said.

The Council secured $ 150M in commercial bank loans to resolve the financial crisis first announced in October 2020.

It returned some and wrote off other internal “borrowings” from restricted funds that should not be spent without the permission of elected Councilors or the Local Government Minister, but the loans should be repaid within 10 years.

IPART’s decision will be known in May.

Meanwhile, the Council is still seeking another increase in the cost of IPART – it has asked IPART to allow the Council to increase the price of water, sewer and drains by 34 percent.

IPART submission is a completely separate process.

Merilyn Vale