Gosford City Council

Rates up 12%! Is council unfit to govern or a top 10 performer?

The NSW Government recently declared that Gosford City Council was unfit for the future.

Gosford Council is now claiming to be a top 10 Council.

Who is right?

The council’s strategies for improvement rely on …a single year special [rates] variation in 2017-18 of 12.0% cumulative (9.5% above the rate peg). IPART 2016

Top 10!?

In February 2016, a Council media release accompanied by paid advertising with photos of Council staff proudly trumpeted that it was a top 10 Council with a $13 million surplus after “… the financial data of all NSW councils for 2014/2015 was analysed by LG Solutions

Article form Central Coast Express Advocate - 3 page full colour feature on 19 February 2016

Central Coast Express Advocate – 3 page full colour feature on 19 February 2016

So where is the report and who is LG Solutions?

Given the fanfare, it seems unusual that Council staff have not published it online by now, but it is still nowhere to be found!

Based on their website, LG Solutions is a small (boutique) company that sell financial products to councils including a year end financial template that allows Council staff to enter their own figures into a template and copy and paste the results into the annual report.


Cartoon image from LG Solutions showing how their product turns a council mess into a year end report

Image from LG Solutions website showing how their product turns a councils administrative mess into Year End Report. Source LG Solutions website 27/2/2016: http://www.lgsolutions.net.au/index.php/ye-financial-reporting-templates.html

They also sell an analyser that can compare councils that purchase their products.

Cartoon from LG Solutions website showing how their local government analyser works

Image from LG Solutions website showing how their product compares a councils financial performance. Source LG Solutions website 27/2/2016: http://www.lgsolutions.net.au/index.php/ye-app.html

It appears this is the analysis the Council staff used for the claim that they are a top 10 Council.

So why won’t Council publish the financial analysis of all NSW Councils, on their website? It would cost nothing to publish it on their website which is in stark contrast to the paid advertising with obligatory photos which has been the only source of information to date.

Unfit to govern?

In a thorough review with four years of independent assessments, including a recent Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report, found that Gosford Council was not fit for the future.

The good news for Council was that IPART thought that Council was financially viable – but there is a very expensive catch!

To avoid being declared financially unfit by the NSW Government, Gosford Council proposed to IPART that they will slug ratepayers with a 12% increase in rates AND not spend monies set aside for improvement works because they need every cent of interest to prop themselves up.

The council’s strategies for improvement rely on a number of assumptions including the potential application for and adoption of a single year special variation in 2017-18 of 12.0% cumulative (9.5% above the rate peg). IPART 2016

We estimate that adjusting the operating performance ratio by removing interest income on section 94 reserves would reduce this ratio by approximately two percentage points in 2019-20, however the council would still meet the benchmark. IPART 2016

So to be financially viable, Council proposed to increase your rates by 12% AND not spend the money already allocated for infrastructure.

The council’s building and infrastructure asset renewal ratio …does not meet the benchmark. The council’s infrastructure backlog ratio is forecast to reduce to 3.5% by 2019-20, but does not meet the benchmark. IPART 2016

Here are some other gems from the IPART report:

“The ILGRP noted that the Central Coast would benefit from strong governance.” IPART 2016

Many would welcome and concur with this assessment: the debacle over selling community land without any adherence to legislated processes is but one example. Others may want to include the widely variable and consistently inconsistent application of planning laws.

“Gosford’s proposal is not consistent with the objectives for the Central Coast.” IPART 2016

It is certainly not consistent with the interests of ratepayers when Council formally proposes to deliver even less services whilst charging ratepayers outrageous amounts of money.

Rates for a cottage at Avoca are already more expensive than harbour-side mansions at Vaucluse.

9 Coolong Rd Vaucluse with views over the Sydney Harbour

9 Coolong Rd, Vaucluse. A double waterfront block at Vaucluse with a land value of $35 million and pays $9500 in rates. Gosford Council charges an Avoca resident pays $11,000 for a single cottage.

You be the judge: unfit to govern or top 10 Council?


Categories: Gosford City Council

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3 replies »

  1. It appears that the confusion surrounding Council amalgamations and the comments contained in your document I hold the view that all Council Po/positions Political and employees be declared vacant (at least at Senior management levels) and that all Councillors and senior employees not be permitted to apply for their p[ositions prior to elections or re-appointment. This would greatly assist in removing collusion, nepotism and corruption where they may exist. If we are going to experience inconvenience we should do the best job we possibly can,

  2. Gosford Council has been a nightmare for decades. Waste money? No problem because rates are adjusted to fix that.
    A 12% increase in rates is par for the course given the above CPI increases Gosford Council has been awarded for decades. On the other end you have an outdoor workforce which has been shown to be playing hooky and having at best part time jobs. At the top end there are some highly paid who are engaged in the production of propaganda and reports, for want of another word, which have no purpose other than painting council out as a caring entity….which it is not. And then we have the Terrigal money pit where funds which other areas urgently need are pumped into the favoured area. The one which has a state government seat. ANd the one where many of the well to do council employees likely live.
    We need an end to this corruption by any other name but I am yet to be convinced that the proposed merger will not be anything else other than a larger version of the same cesspit with the same employees who misuse the council for their own needs rather than that of the electorate and its residents.
    We need a fix. Not just a name change!

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