Date:

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Time:

6.30pm

Location:

Council meeting to be held remotely using audio visual link and is open to members of the community via webcast.

 

Supplementary AGENDA

Amended Report: Item 15.5

 

Ordinary Council Meeting

 

21 April 2020

 

 

 

 

Ben Taylor

Chief Executive Officer

 


Ordinary Council Meeting Agenda

21 April 2020

 

Order Of Business

15       Efficient and Effective Council 4

15.5          Exhibition of Draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020/21 – Updated Report 4

 


Ordinary Council Meeting Agenda

21 April 2020

 

15          Efficient and Effective Council

15.5       Exhibition of Draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020/21 – Updated Report

File Number:           10619-2#193

 

Executive Summary

This report presents the draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020/21. The draft Operational Plan includes the annual budget, fees and charges, and sets out the activities and projects that are planned in the forthcoming year to achieve the commitments made in Council’s adopted Delivery Program 2017/18 – 2020/21. The Plan also includes a number of key initiatives to enhance Council’s service to the community and a continued focus on road and other infrastructure improvements.

The Local Government Act 1993 requires Council to publicly exhibit the draft Plan, consider any submissions received and formally adopt the final document by 30 June 2020. This timeline required the draft Budget to be prepared prior to the recent unforeseeable events of COVID-19. As such, this draft Plan outlines our priorities for the coming year and represents a budget and program based on usual operations were it not for the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, we are living in an uncertain and unprecedented time.

Council is focussed on continuing to provide the services that our community relies upon in a fiscally responsible manner whilst also supporting our community through this challenging period.

While it is yet too early to know the exact impact of Covid-19 on our business or finances, it is certain that that there will be a significant reduction in Council’s revenue and rates, expected to be in the millions of dollars. This will have a big impact on Council’s financial position based on the projected timeline for the economic impact of Covid-19. It also has implications for Council’s ability to maintain service levels and deliver planned infrastructure projects without adjusting the program and budget. 

During the exhibition period it is intended that Council will continue to review the revenue impacts of the economic implications of Covid-19 and identify any required reductions in our expenditure, adjustments to the planned project implementation timelines and funding sources. This will be done as part of its normal consideration and incorporation of submissions received during the exhibition period. The revised Operational Plan will then be submitted to the June 2020 Council meeting for adoption. Any further impacts realised after the adoption of the plan will be considered and reported through the normal quarterly reporting processes in the 20/21 financial year.

Recommendation

That Council:

1.       Endorses the draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020/21 and approves that it be placed on public exhibition for a period of 28 days from Wednesday 22nd April 2020.

2.       Notes the draft Operational Plan includes the continued focus on high quality services, a $35.5 million investment in road and other infrastructure renewal and upgrades, and the following key priorities to enhance Council’s service to the community:

(i)      Increased asphalt repairs across the road network through the incorporation of an additional crew to operate existing equipment at increased capacity

(ii)      Enhanced public streetscapes through cost effective a public bin servicing initiative bringing the function in-house at lower cost than currently delivered

(iii)     Increased Swimming Pool Safety inspections enhancing the safety of our community

(iv)    Improved environmental outcomes and compliance within our Shire by creating a structure that enables an even more proactive approach to regulatory services

(v)     Moving to an Integrated Service Delivery Platform to enhance the customer experience for dealings with Council and to deliver greater efficiencies across Council processes

3.       Notes that the economic impacts of Covid-19 will have a significant impact on Council’s financial position and that forecast income, funding sources and expenditure will be revised and an updated Plan incorporating community feedback will be reported to the June 2020 Council meeting for adoption.

4.       Notes that residents impacted by Covid-19 can apply for financial hardship assistance and that options to support impacted residents during these challenging times will be workshopped with Councillors prior to the finalisation of the Operational Plan.  

 

Report

The Operational Plan is a sub-plan of Council’s adopted Delivery Program 2017/18 - 2020/21 and demonstrates Council's approach, in the final year, to achieve the outcomes set by Council in the Delivery Program.

The draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020/21 outlines the actions and activities we will undertake to achieve the objectives set in the Delivery Program, which in turn, align with the outcomes identified in the Wollondilly Community Strategic Plan 2033. The Operational Plan allocates responsibilities and resources for each action/activity and details targets and measures to determine our progress towards achieving the Community Strategic Plan outcomes.

We are working hard to fully understand the impact of Covid-19.  As we do so we will have to make changes to this Operational Plan while the document is on exhibition and bring these changes back to Council in June 2020 for adoption. 

 

Proposed service improvements for the Wollondilly community

We are passionate about making Wollondilly Council the best council in Australia.  So even in these tough times we are determined to make substantial improvements.  With that in mind we have identified a number of initiatives to enhance Council’s service to the community: 

1.       Increased asphalt repairs across the road network through the incorporation of an additional crew to operate existing equipment at increased capacity

2.       Enhanced public streetscapes through cost effective a public bin servicing initiative bringing the function in-house at lower cost than currently delivered

3.       Increased Swimming Pool Safety inspections enhancing the safety of our community

4.       Improved environmental outcomes and compliance within our Shire by creating a structure that enables an even more proactive approach to regulatory services

5.       Moving to an Integrated Service Delivery Platform to enhance the customer experience for dealings with Council and to deliver greater efficiencies across Council processes

These projects and initiatives are either self-funding or will have a positive impact on our service to the community.

1. Increased asphalt repairs across the road network through the incorporation of an additional crew to operate existing equipment at increased capacity

Council’s Transport Asset Management Plan sets out the biggest ever road maintenance, repair and upgrade program in Wollondilly history for our +850km road network. Council has already doubled the road repair budget to $12.5M in 2019/20 and it is proposed to be $20m in 2020/21.

This program is making a difference and our roads are improving, however with such a large road network there is always more work to do. This investment will further increase our pavement maintenance.

Currently, council predominantly uses the Jet-patcher to undertake urgent pothole repairs to minimise the ingress of water into the granular pavements and prevent ever expanding pavement failures.  These pothole repairs are intended to hold the pavements together until our patching, re-sealing and pavement reconstruction programmes can deliver the longer term pavement solutions.

Council also uses a pavement repair truck, known as the Flocon, for asphalt pavement and edge-break repairs.  The draft budget includes an additional amount of $580,000 to enable the employment of additional staff and purchase of materials so this plant can be utilised more consistently throughout the year. This will deliver more asphalt repairs across the road network, allowing for a larger number of patches to be completed each year. 

2. Enhanced public streetscapes through cost effective a public bin servicing initiative bringing the function in-house at lower cost than currently delivered

We have been monitoring and modelling our costs for street and park bins. Replacing, emptying and cleaning the more than 185 x 50 litre bins and 86 x 240 litre wheelie bins across Wollondilly Shire, as well as the 10 skips bins used to aggregate rubbish from the 50 litre street bins. This is a significant cost for the community and we want to make sure we effectively manage these costs.

Our modelling indicates that we are approaching the threshold where a once-off capital investment for a new waste compactor truck and installation of 240 litre wheelie bins as street and park bins across the shire is required. This will be funded from a ‘Waste Less, Recycle More’ grant from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority.

In addition, using operational savings from the change will enable a cost-neutral increase in our service levels for the community and also deliver a significant reduction in Work Health & Safety Risks for our staff.  The draft budget will enable the delivery of this significant service and safety improvement in the 2020/21 financial year.

3. Increased Swimming Pool Safety inspections enhancing the safety of our community

The safety of our community is of the utmost importance.  By inspecting more pools we will increase public safety.  This initiative is for a self-funding Swimming Pool Safety program.  We will increase our annual inspection rate to at least 10% of the swimming pools in the Shire in line with our adopted Swimming Pool Inspection program.

4. Improved environmental outcomes and compliance within our Shire by creating a structure that enables a proactive approach to regulatory services

Currently Council’s compliance functions are reactive only due to currently available resources.  This initiative will enable a more proactive approach to be taken to compliance.  It includes compliance team changes and additional resourcing to enhance investigative and compliance functions, including ranger services, additional environmental health resources and a development application audit function.  The initiative will improve environmental outcomes and compliance within the Shire.

5. Moving to an Integrated Service Delivery Platform to enhance the customer experience for dealings with Council and to deliver greater efficiencies across Council processes

Council is implementing new software that we have already demonstrated will make a quantum leap forward in both our business efficiency and our customer service.  Through this investment in technology we are digitising a myriad of manual processes which will improve value for money for our ratepayers and ensure that we can support the imminent growth of our community.  For the first time we will be able to offer many of our services online and our customers will be able to access our services from anywhere and at any time.

 

 

 

Continuing to invest in quality services and priority infrastructure

The draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020/21 continues Council’s focus on providing high quality services for our community.

The Budget has been prepared based on a continuation of all current services, plus a significant $35.5 million investment in Council’s infrastructure to reduce our backlog and provide new much-needed infrastructure for the community. This includes $20m on road upgrades, renewal and active transport, $4.9m on open space projects including the major upgrades to the Tahmoor Sporting Complex, $7.8m on the Wollondilly Community, Cultural and Civic Precinct redevelopment thanks to a significant grant under the Western City Deal Liveability Fund, $1.6m in building renewal works and $1.2m on plant replacement, waste and stormwater infrastructure. 

Council income

The draft budget continues to include funding for delivery of all of Council’s existing services through the use of anticipated revenues from fees and charges, rating income and ongoing grants. Details of the income assumptions within the draft budget, which may have a direct impact on members of our community, are as follows:

Rates and Annual Charges income - $48.66 million

NSW has a longstanding policy of regulating the growth in local council rates under an arrangement known as ‘rate pegging’. Under rate pegging, IPART sets a ‘rate peg’ each year, which determines the allowable percentage increase in rates income for councils, however the rates paid by individual households will not necessarily go up in line with the rate peg as Councils are able to set rate levels for different categories of ratepayers..

 

The rate peg figure for 2020/21 has been set at 2.6% and land valuation changes notified by the NSW Valuer General’s office will impact individual household or business rates this year. The table below shows the proposed ad valorem rate in the dollar and minimum rate value for each rate category for the 2020/21 financial year.

2019/2020 Ad valorum Rate

2019/2020 Minimum Rate

2020/2021 Estimated Ad Valorum Rate

2020/2021 Minimum Rate

Residential Town Centre

0.00425679

            1,339.00

0.00389409

      1,373.00

Rural Residential

0.0035163

            1,456.00

0.00303318

      1,493.00

Residential

0.00353637

            1,456.00

0.00303732

      1,493.00

Farmland

0.00237548

            1,237.00

0.00193378

      1,269.00

Business

0.00753289

            1,456.00

0.00577451

      1,493.00

Business Light Industrial

0.00538812

            1,456.00

0.00355842

      1,493.00

Mining

0.08808206

            1,456.00

0.02209989

      1,493.00

 

Note that the 2020/21 ad valorem rates are based on data available at the time of preparing this document and are subject to minor changes from any variations to the source data that may occur between now and when the 2020/21 levy is calculated in July 2020.

 

This year’s proposed ad valorem rates incorporate suggested adjustments to the residential town centre boundaries in order to address inequities that have been the result of recent developments undertaken within many of our towns and villages.

The draft Operational Plan incorporates details of Council’s rating categories and maps of the proposed adjustments (pages 64 to 80) and all affected owners will receive correspondence by mail advising them of the implications for their rating categorisation to enable them to make submissions during the exhibition period.

 

Details of annual charges proposed for the 2020/21 financial year are included at pages 83 to 87 of the draft Operational Plan.

Fees and Charges income - $8.025 million

Council has adopted a number of fees and charges for the wide and varied services that it provides to the Community. In deciding who pays for goods and services, and to what extent, it is necessary to determine whether the service benefits the general community and/or individuals, i.e. the proportion of Community versus private benefit. In order to determine the fee that should appropriately be charged the following categorisation is used:

a)   The price for this service is to make a minimal contribution towards the cost of providing this service. The majority of costs of this service are met from general income.

b)   The price for this service is set to recover annual operating and maintenance costs, but does not contribute towards the replacement of assets in providing service.

c)   The price of this service is set to recover annual operating and maintenance costs, and to make a contribution to the replacement of assets used in providing the service.

d)   The price of these goods or services is set to generate an appropriate return on capital invested.

e)   The price charged is a refundable deposit against possible damage to infrastructure, footpaths, kerb, gutters and roadways, buildings, parks and reserves caused by adjacent development or use of facilities.

f)    The price charged for these goods or services is set by regulation.

 

A review of each fee and charge is undertaken annually, having regard to any relevant increase in the cost to deliver, and the proposed fees and charges for the 2020/21 financial year are detailed in pages 91 to 149 of the draft Operational Plan.

Grant Income - $7.24 million

The draft operational plan includes only those grant funding opportunities that are known to be recurring in nature or confirmed as committed at the time of preparation. Staff will continue to pursue opportunities to obtain grant funding to assist with implementation of the identified priorities and actions throughout the course of the year. Any increase to the levels of grant funding that are confirmed available will be recognised through the normal quarterly review processes across the financial year.

Interest and Investment income - $1.06 million

The draft operational plan recognises the softening of interest rates which began prior to the current COVID-19 economic environment. At this point in time it is not intended for any significant changes to be made to Council’s normal investment processes and policy, details of which are at pages 89 to 90 of the draft Operational plan.

Other Revenue - $0.96 million

Income from other revenue sources such as rental income from Council owned properties are anticipated to continue at current levels.

Consultation

All operational areas of council and Council’s Executive Team have provided input into the preparation of the draft Wollondilly operational Plan 2020/21.

Council’s Strategic Resourcing Advisory Committee was presented with the draft budget and proposed prioritisation of initiatives at briefings held on 24th and 31st March 2020.

This report requests Council to endorse the draft Operational Plan to be placed on public exhibition to provide the community with an opportunity to provide relevant feedback to Council on the plans for the year ahead. The exhibition period will be advertised on social media and on Council’s website.

Financial Implications

The Office of Local Government (OLG) has summarised the current situation as:

 “Financial management strategies will need to be flexible and adaptable and OLG will take a pragmatic approach to council performance this year. No council should be considering reducing services or staffing just to demonstrate compliance with financial benchmarks.
In the coming months, as councils respond to the COVID-19 pandemic they should continue to make sound financial decisions which includes continuing to meet ongoing financial obligations.”

The emphasis in the draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020/21 has been placed on continuing to deliver for our community and new initiatives and actions have been limited to those which are self-funding and/or deliver enhanced services levels or greater efficiencies. This provides an opportunity for unrestricted reserves to be directed to areas of need in the short term without necessarily requiring restrictions to business as usual. Similarly, adjustments being made within Council in the current financial year are designed to limit pressure on next year’s plan.

It is recognised, however, that there will be a period of time required for the economy and individuals to find a new equilibrium. It is unclear as to what that timeline will look like. It is becoming more evident daily that there will be large numbers of our community who will be suffering financial hardship in the short term, and some may be impacted for a much longer period depending on how the economy recovers. This is expected to place significant limitations (early indications suggest somewhere between 10 and 25%) on Council’s ability to collect the forecast income from rates, annual charges and fees and charges in the short to long term.

It is not yet known the extent to which Federal and State government may be able to assist. Council may need to look to fund some of the business as usual functions from existing reserves in the short-term and additional efficiency measures may need to be introduced. Considerations such as this and whether to seek external borrowings are currently under review and may form part of proposed amendments when the final operational plan is brought back to Council in June.

Attachments

1.       Draft Wollondilly Operational Plan 2020-21   


Ordinary Council Meeting Agenda

21 April 2020

 

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