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
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”
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.
They also sell an analyser that can compare councils that purchase their products.
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.
You be the judge: unfit to govern or top 10 Council?
Categories: Gosford City Council