Highlights of the 26 October 2021 Ordinary Council Meeting

Date

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Release

        Council finances on track for the year to date

        Council’s September monthly finance report shows Council is currently tracking in a satisfactory way in relation to its 2021-22 budget.

        Council Administrator Rik Hart said Council’s operating surplus (excluding Grants and Contributions for capital purposes) year to date was $10.4 million compared to the budget deficit of $1.9 million.

        “We are operationally tracking at a steady pace as we continue our path of prudent financial management and keeping costs down” Mr Hart said.

        “More importantly staff are consistently implementing efficiencies through better management of staff time, processes and utilisation of technology. This is so we can continue to find productivity gains, and our community see minimal impacts on service delivery, despite the recent cost cutting.

        “We expect to have some setbacks once the reduction in fees and charges as a result of the closure of most of our paying facilities since late June 2021 due to COVID are fully realised. Staff have been managing these impacts and this will be reflected in the Quarter 1 financial reports coming to Council in November this year.

        “We promised our community that we would provide a clear line of sight into our financial management and that is what we are doing,” Mr Hart said.

        Key points from the Finance Monthly Report for September 2021 are that Council has recorded:

        • A favourable variance to budget of $4.2M for September 2021, net operating result excluding Grants and Contributions for capital purposes.
        • Year to date, a favourable variance to budget of $12.2M and an increase from year-to-date September 2020 of $25.6M in its net operating result, excluding Grants and Contributions for capital purposes.
        • A favourable variance to budget of $6.7M net operating result including Grants and Contributions for capital purposes.
        • Year to date, a favourable variance to budget of $12.3M and an increase from year-to-date September 2020 of $20.4M in its net operating result, including Grants and Contributions for capital purposes.
        • Year to date capital expenditure was $19.0M against budget of $29.3M. There are currently 442 projects in various stages of completion.

        For more information go to “Finance Monthly Reports” at centralcoast.nsw.gov.au.

        Audit Office of New South Wales has requested Council seek an extension to lodge its audited 2020-2021 Financial Reports with NSW Office of Local Government

        At the request of the Audit Office of New South Wales, Council has submitted an extension request until 17 December 2021 to NSW Office of Local Government to lodge Central Coast Council’s audited 2020-2021 Financial Reports.

        The Audit Office have explained the need to seek an extension is due to the fact that the audit of Council’s 2019- 2020 financial reports did not conclude until 10 May 2021 and that the significant planning and interim work that would normally occur in the January to May period, could not commence until June 2021. This then impacted the timeframes for the completion of the audit of 2020-2021 Financial Reports by the legislated deadline of 31 October 2021.

        On 12 October 2021 Council considered the draft 2020-2021 unaudited Financial Reports for Central Coast Council and Central Coast Council Water Supply Authority and referred them to external audit.

        Council Administrator Rik Hart said Council was comfortable complying with this direct request from the Audit Office.

        “Council’s financial staff have delivered the unaudited 2020-21 Financial Reports within the timeframe required,” Mr Hart said.

        “This has been no small feat, considering everything else that has been going on. They have literally had no breathing space between the past two financial year audits, and have also been preparing the intricate financial information that has been required to support Council’s submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) about Water, Sewerage and Drainage prices.

        “I want to take this opportunity to thank Council’s financial staff for their professionalism, diligence and dedication. This includes producing new monthly financial reporting that is helping our community have a clear line of sight about Council finances,” said Mr Hart.

        New Positive Ageing Strategy for the Coast

        Council has adopted the Central Coast Positive Ageing Strategy 2021-2026 to support older residents to age healthily, feel connected and enjoy an age-friendly community.

        Over the next five years the Strategy will provide direction to Council for the planning, development and implementation of programs, activities, services and infrastructure to respond to the changing needs and aspirations of the region’s older population.

        Council Administrator, Rik Hart said the Strategy has been informed by engagement with older residents, best practice research and consultation with service providers.

        “This Strategy is particularly important for the Central Coast, with 27 percent of the population aged 60 years and above, which compares to 22 percent for NSW,” Mr Hart said.

        “An age friendly community must support people through all life stages, this includes the large majority of older residents who lead active lives and continue to make a significant contribution to our community, and older residents who require additional support.

        “Our ageing population creates unique opportunities and challenges, and we are seeking to best deliver services that support older residents to age healthily, feel connected and enjoy an age-friendly community.

        The Draft Strategy was placed on public exhibition from 14 September to 11 October 2020 and the final Strategy will be made available on Council’s website and at 50+Centres and Libraries

        Central Coast Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2021-2025 adopted

        Council has adopted its second Central Coast Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2021-2025, building on the achievements of its first Central Coast Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2017-2021.

        The Plan was developed with the community and outlines the strategies and actions that Council will put in place over the next four-year period to make the Central Coast more accessible, inclusive and liveable for community members and visitors.

        Council Administrator, Rik Hart said like everyone else, people with disability want to live a meaningful life and the Plan is designed to help people living with disability to participate in all aspects of community life.

        “Thank you to everyone who helped develop this Plan, especially those people living with disability, their family members and carers, people working in the disability sector and members of Council’s Access and Inclusion Reference Group, who shared their lived experience,” Mr Hart said.

        “The Central Coast Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2021-2025 will help to develop positive community behaviours towards people with a disability, create a more accessible, inclusive region for people living with disability, including more opportunities to find meaningful employment and improve access to services.”

        Key focus areas of the Plan areas include:

        • increasing positive attitudes and behaviours towards people with disability
        • making the Central Coast more accessible, inclusive and liveable
        • increasing employment of people with disability in meaningful roles at Council and in the community
        • improving access to mainstream Council services through better systems and processes.

        The Central Coast Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2021-2025 will be available on centralcoast.nsw.gov.au shortly with further promotion and launch to coincide with International Day of People with Disability on 3 December.

        Referendum and return of Councillors on the horizon

        Council has confirmed its intention to hold a constitutional referendum to determine the future number of Councillors alongside the next general election for the Local Government Area and is submitting a recommendation to Office of Local Government that both are held in 2022.

        Council Administrator Rik Hart said this approach would reduce the cost and inconvenience imposed on the community if run separately.

        “Given the NSW Local Government Minister’s decision to postpone the September 2021 NSW LGA Elections, a decision has been made by Council in relation to the Referendum which has resulted in an overall saving to Council of $1,362,574.43.”

        “The decision to hold a public inquiry meant that the local government election scheduled for the Central Coast in September 2021 needed to be postponed until late 2022.”

        “Whilst my door has always been open to the community in my role as the Administrator, I believe it’s important to restore democracy for the Central Coast region with a representation of councillors,” Mr Hart said.

        “I will now write to the Minister for Local Government recommending that the next general election for Central Coast Region be conducted in September/October 2022 and in conjunction with the Constitutional Referendum, with the results of the Referendum to apply in the 2024 local government election.”

        The referendum will ask Central Coast voters to determine the following question: ‘Do you favour a reduction in the number of Central Coast Councillors from fifteen to nine? This will result in three Wards with each Ward electing three Councillors’.

        The community can stay up to date with the current status and news around the Referendum on Council’s website.

        Community Support Grant Program 2021-22

        Council has approved the recommendation to allocate $58,371.94 for the July round of the Community Support Grant Program.

        The Community Support Grant Program remains open through the year (or until funds are expended) and is designed to support the community to deliver quality programs, projects or events that build connections and celebrate the local community.

        Council Administrator, Rik Hart said Council is committed to helping community groups to flourish on the Central Coast.

        “Community groups are at the heart of what makes the Coast such a great place to live work and play and Council is thrilled to support a range of activities through our grants program,” Mr Hart said.

        “We encourage local groups to apply for small amounts of funding or in-kind support to help deliver important programs for the Central Coast.”

        The Community Support Grant Program for 2021-22 has a total budget of $300,000 and is funded through existing and approved Operational Plan budgets.

        Community groups who are a legally constituted not-for profit organisations can apply for up to $5,000 per project per financial year in combined funding and in-kind Council services.

        At the 26 October 2021 Council Meeting, 21 applications were approved for funding under the program.

        ENDS

        *Reissued 27 October, noting change to financial figure of 'a favourable variance to budget of $2.4M' to ‘favourable variance to budget of $4.2M for September 2021'

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        Last updated : Wed 27 Oct 2021