Ordinary Council Meeting
18 November 2019
Ordinary Council Meeting Attachments
18 November 2019
11.1 Draft Community Participation Plan
Attachment 1 Wollondilly Community Participation Plan...................................................... 4
12.1 Traffic Management Upgrades - Warragamba Permissible Parking Scheme Trial
Attachment 1 Agenda of Local Traffic Committee Meeting held 8 October 2019............. 19
Attachment 2 Minutes of Local Traffic Committee Meeting held 8 October 2019............. 45
13.1 Repeal of the Requirements for Works Affecting Watercourses Policy
Attachment 1 Requirements for Works Affecting Watercourses Policy PLA0009............ 50
14.1 Review of Council's Communications Strategies
Attachment 1 Wollondilly Communications Deep Dive Project - Survey Results.............. 53
Attachment 2 Communications Action Plans..................................................................... 54
14.2 Review of the Tourism and Economic Development Strategies
Attachment 1 Wollondilly Trek and 2 Short Walks 2019/20 milestones and deliverables. 65
Attachment 2 Smart Working Hub 2019/20 milestones and deliverables.......................... 65
15.1 Establishment of Wollondilly Office of Integrity
Attachment 1 Office of Integrity Framework...................................................................... 65
15.2 Western Sydney Health Alliance - Western Sydney City Deal
Attachment 1 Western Sydney Health Alliance Draft Memorandum of Understanding.... 65
15.3 Western Parkland Councils' Governance Arrangements
Attachment 1 Western Parkland Council Deed of Agreement........................................... 65
15.4 Review of Debt Recovery Policy
Attachment 1 DRAFT Debt Recovery - Amended Policy with OLG Guidelines............... 65
15.5 Investment of Funds as at 30 September 2019
Attachment 1 Investment Summary Report for September 2019..................................... 65
15.8 Endorsement of the 2018/19 Annual Report-
Attachments to be provided under separate cover.
18 November 2019
1. Policy Objectives
1.1 This policy outlines the principles and guidelines that apply to the recovery and management of overdue rates, domestic waste charges and sundry debtor accounts. It will ensure money owed to Council is collected in a timely manner by utilising efficient and effective debt recovery procedures. The policy will comply with the relevant parts of the Local Government Act, 1993 Regulations, other applicable legislation and the Office of Local Government Debt Management and Hardship Guidelines and will allow for a fair, equitable and transparent approach to recovering overdue accounts.
2.1 The debt recovery policy will ensure that Council’s revenue is collected promptly, fairly and efficiently, in particular the rating and domestic waste management revenue, which is Council’s most significant cash inflow.
3.1 This policy applies to the Finance Officer- Revenue, Revenue Team Leader, Revenue Officer, Senior Revenue Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Director Corporate & Community, Chief Executive Officer and Councillors.
Part 1 – Recovery of Rates
4.1 The principles and guidelines to the recovery of outstanding rates and charges should incorporate the following:
§ Collect all rates and charges by the end of each rating year
§ Apply a fair, equitable, confidential and respectful approach to debt recovery
§ Ensure the outstanding rates ratio is at or below the industry standard
§ Consider arrangements for payments that are overdue
§ Individually assess each hardship application
§ Efficient and effective service management
§ Apply the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1993 relating to the sale of land as and when required
Part 2 – Recovery of Sundry Debtors
4.2 The principles and guidelines to the recovery of sundry debtor accounts should incorporate the following:
§ Reminder letters to be sent after 30 days overdue
§ Apply a fair, equitable, confidential and respectful approach to debt recovery
§ Consider arrangements for payments that are overdue
§ Individually assess each hardship application
Efficient and effective service management§ Where a debt is disputed it will be referred to the appropriate responsible Officer and Manager. The responsible Manager will ensure that the dispute is researched and actioned in a timely manner (within 30 days of the request from Finance) and ensure that Finance is advised of the outcome of the dispute as delays will reduce the chances of recovery of the debt.
§ If the dispute cannot be resolved internally the ratepayer/debtor will be advised of their rights to refer the debt to a Community Justice Centre for mediation.
§ The Chief Executive Officer has delegated authority to determine write-off of debts up to $5,000. Any credit note up to $5,000 required as a result of a dispute will be referred by the responsible manager to the Chief Executive Officer for approval. Credit notes greater than $5,000 will be reported to Council for approval.Any debts written off will be reported in the next available Quarterly Review of Council’s Operational Plan.
§ All credit notes requested as a result of an invoicing error, cancelled booking or other administrative reason will be forwarded to Finance by the responsible officer in the approved form.
§ All credit notes processed within Accounts Receivable will be reviewed monthly by the Revenue Team Leader.
Part 3 – Commencement of Recovery Action (LGA Section 712)
4.3 If an account is overdue and an arrangement to pay has not been made, Council may issue a final notice requesting payment of the overdue amount at a suitable time within the current year. In most cases, the final notice will be issued after each missed instalment.
The final notice will encourage ratepayers experiencing financial hardship to contact Council to discuss the account and to seek financial advice and support from financial support services.
The notice will request the full amount outstanding or offer the opportunity to make a satisfactory arrangement to pay the outstanding amount, if the ratepayer is unable to pay in full.
If no payment is received within the allocated timeframe and Council has not been contacted by the ratepayer or their representative, Council will refer the account to a debt recovery agent to issue a Notice of Intent. The notice of intent will encourage the ratepayer to contact Council to discuss the account and provide a clear estimate of legal costs that will be added to the rate account if debt recovery action proceeds.
Unless the account is paid or a suitable arrangement is made within ten (10) days from the Notice of Intent the debt recovery agent will be instructed to lodge a Statement of Liquidated Claim with the appropriate court.
Part 4 – Stopping and/or Suspending Action/Arrangements (LGA Section 564)
4.4 Actions/Arrangements may be stopped and/or suspended when:
§ The debt is paid in full; or
§ The Court rules that the action is not lawful; or
§ A mutually agreeable arrangement is made between Council and ratepayer/debtor; or
§ The ratepayer provides adequate proof for Council to determine that they are currently experiencing financial hardship, such as a letter from a financial support agency or completes Council’s Hardship Application Form, or
§ At the discretion of a delegated Council officer.
Part 5 – Arrangement Guidelines (LGA Section 564)
4.5 Council acknowledges that in certain cases, some ratepayers may genuinely be experiencing a period of financial hardship and as a result may have difficulty in meeting the cost of each rates instalment as and when it falls due. In such cases, Council encourages ratepayers to enter into an arrangement for periodical payment of rates and charges applicable to their property in accordance with the conditions set out by Council.
Similarly, Council will consider accepting a mutually agreeable arrangement for the payment of overdue rates and charges. The arrangement may be entered into at any time during the recovery process.
The following guidelines should be met before any arrangement is accepted:
§ The arrangement should be accepted on the basis that the outstanding amounts be finalised as soon as possible
§ Arrangements can be made on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis
§ Any arrangement made before the due date of the 3rd instalment, should be made such that all amounts are paid in full by the 30th June of that financial year
§ Arrangements made after the 3rd instalment due date may extend into the following year however, must be reviewed once the subsequent year's levy also becomes payable
§ Extenuating circumstances can be taken into consideration if any of the above 3 conditions cannot be met, but must be referred to the Finance Officer- Revenue or the Revenue Team Leader for approval. Details of income/expenses of ratepayer and a hardship application may be required.
§ Unless the imposition of costs and/or interest are deemed to be in error, the waiving of costs and/or interest will not be considered until all overdue rates and domestic waste charges are paid.
§ Council will offer flexible payment options including payment via weekly, fortnightly or monthly direct debit from a cheque or savings account, Centrepay and at least one other phone and online payment option.
Part 6 – Debt Recovery Process
4.6 As part of the debt recovery process, Council’s Finance Officer - Revenue will:
§ Monitor overdue assessments/accounts
§ Adhere to arrangement guidelines outlined above
§ Commence Debt Recovery action if payments are not received and arrangements are not being adhered to
§ Refer ratepayers/debtors to NSW Community Justice Centre where a debt is disputed and where a ratepayer/debtor consents to mediation.
§ Will not take any further action in respect to a debt that has been referred for mediation until mediation has been finalised.
§ Represent Council throughout a mediation process.
§ Refer ratepayers to financial legal and financial support services wherever appropriate.
§ Refer ratepayers to local language services where appropriate.
§ Wherever possible achieve collection of a debt without accruing legal costs and increasing a debt.
§ Apply fair, equitable and respectful treatment to all ratepayers/debtors.
§ Suspend debt recovery action where a ratepayer complies with an approved payment arrangement or provides proof of financial hardship.
§ Refer rate matters for court action only where a minimum of two quarterly instalments are outstanding and after instalment notices, missed instalment notices, a final notice and a notice of intent have been issued to a ratepayer but a ratepayer or a ratepayers representative has not made contact with Council or when a payment arrangement has not been adhered to.
§ Approve the issue of Statement of Liquidated Claims (SLC), Judgment and Writ action and other legal processes
§ Treat information provided by ratepayers/debtors confidentially and only use information provided for the purpose for which it is supplied.
§ Stop/Suspend Actions/Arrangements.
Part 7 – Dispute Resolution
4.7 In cases where ratepayers object to the decision made, they will have the opportunity to escalate their matter(s) for further consideration to:
1) Revenue Team Leader
2) Chief Financial Officer
3) Executive Director Corporate & Community
4) Chief Executive Officer
5) Community Justice Centre
Part 8 – Customer Service Contact
4.8 Given the nature of the debt recovery process, instances arise from time to time where certain ratepayers may become verbally and/or physically abusive. Threats and abuse, either verbal or physical against Council staff are to be dealt with in line with the managing unacceptable customer behaviour policy and manual.
Part 9 – Interest Charges
4.9 Council charges interest on rates and charges which become overdue and this interest is determined annually.
Council may waive (write off) interest charges in mitigating circumstances affecting the ratepayer, e.g. hospitalisation, death in the family, illness, and good payment history. In giving consideration to the write off, Council will have regard to the previous payment record of the ratepayer. Write offs are initiated at the discretion of the Revenue Team Leader or the Chief Financial Officer depending on circumstances and are given consideration under Council’s Hardship Policy.
Interest charges which have been incorrectly raised by Council, will be written off.
Part 10 – Pensioners
4.10 Council will accept an arrangement for the periodical payment of rates and charges due by persons in receipt of a pension concession card and eligible veteran affairs cardholders.
A reminder notice may also be issued to pensioners requesting payment or an arrangement to pay, however no legal action is to be taken against ratepayers who are pensioners eligible for rebates.
Where appropriate Council officers will refer pensioners experiencing financial hardship to appropriate support services.
5.1 Chief Executive Officer
§ The Chief Executive Officer is authorised to write off debts including rates and charges up to and including $5,000. Amounts above this are to be submitted to Council.
5.2 Chief Financial Officer & Revenue Team Leader
§ Are responsible for overseeing the debt recovery process
§ Ensure staff comply with the debt recovery policy
§ May authorise waiving of interest charges where applicable.
5.3 Finance Officer - Revenue
§ Is responsible for the effective and efficient operation of Council’s debt recovery policy
§ Ensure compliance to the debt recovery policy and related procedures
§ Demonstrate commitment to the debt recovery process.
5.4 Senior Revenue Officer & Revenue Officer
* Is responsible for providing support to the Finance Officer – Revenue and Revenue
Team Leader and providing ratepayers/debtors with appropriate customer service.
* May take arrangements for payment of rates and charges and sundry debts and refer the arrangements to the Finance Officer – Revenue for approval.
6. Related Policies/Protocols
6.1 Hardship Policy (GOV0062)
6.2 Complaint Handling (AP0058)
6.3 Gathering of Information – Due Diligence (AP0017)
6.4 Office of Local Government Debt Management and Hardship Guidelines
7. Related Procedures
7.1 Debt Recovery Procedure
7.2 Complaint Handling Procedure
7.3 Managing Unacceptable Customer Behavior
8. Related Legislation
8.1 Local Government Act 1993
8.2 Local Government (General) Regulations 2005
8.3 Local Government (Financial Management) Regulations 1999
9.1 Appendix 1 – Legal and Financial Support Services
9.2 Appendix 2 – Debt Recovery Procedures
10.1 Section 564 of the Local Government Act 1993
10.2 Section 712 of the Local Government Act 1993
10.3 Office of Local Government
10.4 Consultation with other Councils debt recovery departments
10.5 Debt collection guidelines issued by ACCC & ASIC
11. Implementation Statement
11.1 To ensure this policy is implemented effectively, Council will employ a variety of strategies involving awareness, education and training. These strategies will be aimed at Councillors, staff and council representatives and will involve:
11.1.1 The draft policy has been discussed with Council’s Executive Committee.
11.1.2 Information sessions will be conducted with relevant staff regarding the requirements of the draft policy.
12. Policy History
12.1 Date First Adopted 26 February 2001
12.2 Most Recent Adoption 21 May 2018
12.3 Next Review Date 21 May 2021
12.4 Responsible Officer Chief Financial Officer
Legal and Financial Support Services
Community Legal Centres
Community legal centres (CLCs) are independent non-government organisations that provide free legal services to people and communities, at times when that help is needed most - particularly to people facing economic hardship and discrimination.
A list of Community Legal Centres and contacts can be located at www.clcnsw.org.au
Local Community Legal Centres include:
Macarthur Legal Centre, 3017 Queen Street, Campbelltown NSW 2560 – www.maclegal.net.au Ph: 02 4628 2042
Illawarra Legal Centre Inc, 7 Greene Street, Warrawong NSW 2502 www.illawarralegalcentre.org,au
Ph: 02 4276 1939
Telephone Interpreter Service 13 14 50
Legal Aid civil law practice helps resolve legal issues that impact on people's everyday lives such as debts, unpaid fines, discrimination, tenancy issues, Centrelink disputes and more. Their focus is on helping people to resolve legal issues as early as possible. They provide free in a wide range of areas, help at some , and for matters which are eligible under their .
Further information is available at www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au or by phoning 1300 888 529
ASIC’s Money Smart
Provides financial guidance and resources for setting budgets, managing and prioritising debt.
Community Justice Centres
Can provide assistance and mediation services where a debt is disputed. With ratepayers/debtors consent accounts can be referred by Council to a Community Justice Centre for mediation.
Ph: 1800 990 777
National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007
The free hotline is open from 9:30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday (calls from mobile phones may incur a fee from the mobile phone carrier). You can also visit the National Debt Helpline website for information and resources that can help if you're struggling with debt Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.
Debt Recovery Procedures
1. Missed Instalment Notices will be posted after each instalment due date. Missed Instalment Notices will not be issued to accounts where an arrangement has been made, where there is current legal action or where action has been held (i.e. due to hardship or deceased estate, etc.)
2. A Final Notice will be issued for all assessments that have an overdue balance over $1,000.00 and more than one overdue instalment not less than 10 days after issue of the Missed Instalment Notice. Final Notices will not be issued on accounts where an arrangement has been made, if ratepayers have disputed the debt and the debt has been referred to mediation or where action has been held.
3. All accounts issued a Final Notice will be reviewed for any indication that notices may be getting issued to an incorrect postal address or the property is being sold. This will include White Pages searches, Council records management searches, Land Registry Services search, review of 603 certificates issued and review of Council’s waste delivery spreadsheet.
Where an alternative contact is located (i.e. new postal address, email or phone number) the ratepayer will be contacted and issued with a copy of the Final Notice and request for them to update their postal address for service of rate notices.
4. Accounts issued a Final Notice (except those excluded due to address change, sales, arrangements, hardship etc.) with balances over $1,000.00 remaining will be referred to Council’s debt recovery agent for a Notice of Intent to be issued not less than 10 days after issue of the Final Notice.
5. In accordance with Council’s Debt Recovery and Hardship Policy recovery action will be suspended at any point throughout the recovery process when a ratepayer makes an acceptable arrangement, provides proof that they are experiencing financial hardship or requests that a debt be referred for mediation.
6. A Statement of Liquidated Claim (SLC) will be issued for all accounts over $1,000.00 that have not responded to debt recovery agent Notice of Intent not less than 10 days after issue of Notice of Intent.
7. Finance Officer – Revenue will instruct debt recovery agent on each step in the debt recovery process as each step is recommended by the debt recovery agents.
8. Where action is held following acceptance of a payment arrangement the Finance Officer-Revenue will issue written confirmation of the arrangement.
9. Where an arrangement is defaulted on the ratepayer will be issued with a Defaulted Arrangement Letter, Final Notice and debt recovery agent Notice of Intent prior to legal action commencing.
10. Wherever appropriate the ratepayer will be encouraged to seek legal and financial support and assistance and provided with resources noted in Appendix 1.
11. A record of each action taken or contact made with the ratepayer will be added to the rate assessment memos.
12. Council’s Debt Recovery Policy and associated procedures will be available on Council’s website and on request from Council’s Revenue Team.
1. Monthly Statements will be issued for all accounts with a balance as at 1st of each month
2. Accounts with overdue invoices >30 days will be issued with an overdue notice (statement)
3. Accounts with overdue invoices >60 days will be issued with a Final Notice
4. Not less than 10 days after issue of Final Notice accounts >$500.00 will be referred to Council’s debt recovery agent for a Notice of Intent to be issued
5. Not less than 10 days after issue of Notice of Intent Council’s debt recovery agents will be instructed to proceed to Statement of Liquidated Claim (SLC) for all accounts over $500.00 unless a payment arrangement has been made, the debtor has disputed the debt and it has been referred to the relevant Council manager or mediation or where the debtor has provided proof of financial hardship.
6. A record of each action taken or contact made with the debtor will be added to the account memos
7. Finance Officer – Revenue will instruct debt recovery agent on each step in the debt recovery process as each step is recommended by the debt recovery agent.
8. Where action is held following acceptance of a payment arrangement the Finance Officer-Revenue will issue written confirmation of the arrangement
9. Where an arrangement is defaulted on the debtor will be issued with a Defaulted Arrangement Letter, Final Notice and debt recovery agent Notice of Intent prior to legal action commencing
10. Wherever appropriate the debtor will be encouraged to seek legal and financial support and assistance and provided with resources noted in Appendix 1.