Highlight of the evening was to hear the council debt has now gone down.
Chief Financial Officer Ms Natalia Cowley explained the total debt is $458M now rather than the $565m announced in the 30 day report last December.
The news came in answer to questions from speaker number four, Ms Susan Greene, the woman who put her name to the e-petition for a judicial inquiry into the council.
The petition, by the way, has now gone beyond its magic 20,000 and the matter should be debated in State Parliament.
Scroll down to see how the evening unfolded.
Meeting now closed. It is 7.24pm.
7:21pm Construction of Cell 4.4 at Buttonderry Waste Management Facility: Budget Approved
The contract is for the construction of landfill cell 4.4 at Buttonderry Waste Management Facility (BWMF).
The program for construction is 10 months, what will fall across the 20/21 and 21/22 financial years.
This has been budgeted for in this financial year and planned in next financial year within the $170M capital works cap.
The construction is scheduled to commence in March in order to be ready to accept waste by the end of December 2021.
Tendering has been undertaken for the construction and is currently being evaluated.
Approval means council allocates in the draft budget for the 2021-22 capital works program the sum of $5,615,000 for these works.
Draft Community Participation Plan adopted
Mr Persson says, again, noone here tonight as he adopts the community participation plan. We are down to four of us in the public gallery. There are more staff than there are residents here tonight. I guess you’re all glued to your screens reading this?
Keeping of Animals Policy adopted by Council (doesn’t include dogs and cats).
7:19pm Tree policy adopted.
Mr Persson says there is a concern council doesn’t know enough about how much tree vadalism is occuring so he has asked for a report letting him know what has happened over the last year and he will know if the policy needs tweaking.
7:16pm The Business Recovery Plan – Status Report adopted
This is the final report to be provided to Council regarding progress against the Business Recovery Plan.
Financial Tactical Team will discontinue and financial savings will continue as business as usual.
Jobs stil to do on the BAU list include:
- Review developer contribution plans and model expenditure prediction with a view to minimise expenditure from general revenue.
- Address all recommendations made in the Developer Contribution Audit and ensure clear strategy.
- Continue review of historical spend to identify funds that may have been expended from incorrect sources i.e. Developer contribution eligible projects that have been funded from general revenue.
- Create a property (land) register including details on the use and return on property.
- Assess the holding costs of all non-income producing assets and the current and future needs (e.g. community expectation) /strategy for maintaining the property.
- Consider the sale of non-core assets no longer required identify the value return and ensure sustainable use, i.e. pay down of debt.
Progress of the Forensic Audit
The forensic report is being finalised and will be included in a council report to be provided at the Council Meeting on 9 March 2021.
7:15pm Update on Actions in Response to Resolution – Integrity and Ethical Standards
And Governance Lighthouse report as at 31 December 2020
Lot of guff; nothing much happening here.
Pecuniary interest report adopted.
Four new Council Officials are deemed to be Designated Persons:
2 Acting Chief Executive Officer,
3 Chief Operating Officer;
4 Acting Director Corporate Affairs.
Council’s Code of Conduct requires each Designated Person to lodge a Pecuniary Interest Disclosure Return with the Chief Executive Officer within three months of joining Council.
All four Returns were lodged before the required date.
Even better, we the ever patient public can read them.
Contact me if you need to know how to go about that.
Investment report is adopted: scroll down for details that I posted about 5.30pm.
712: Q2 Business report is presented by Natalia Cowley and adopted.
Financial Performance to the end of December 2020
- The year to date (YTD) operating result (excluding capital grants and contributions) is showing a favourable variance of $21.5M, consisting of an actual surplus of $102.3M compared to a budget surplus of $80.8M.
- The year to date (YTD) operating result (including capital grants and contributions) is showing a favourable variance of $23.1M, consisting of an actual surplus of $123.9M compared to a budget surplus of $100.8M.
- The year to date (YTD) capital expenditure is $90.3M compared to a year to date budget of $104.6M.
The CFO reckons it will register a $107.4M loss by the end of the financial year and remedial actions include structural reduction in operating expenditure, seeking special rate variation approval from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, reducing capital expenditure, secured bank loans, generating additional income and selling underperforming assets.
Mr Cox said the key highlights were …..in the report.
Mr Persson said it’s intersting that no-one puts their hand up to come and talk about reports like this and he adopted the recommendation.
7.10 Meeting is now resumed. No disclosures of interest. Minutes adopted.
No closed sessions tonight.
7:10pm That’s the end of the speakers.
Fourth Speaker is Susan Greene, the person who submitted the e-petition along with speaker three.
She wants to ask some questions about finance but Mr Persson says haven’t you already asked these questions?
No, says Ms Greene.
She wants to know the total accummulated debt.
On rates, she wants to know if it is true that rates will go up 42 per cent?
Can you explain rates harmonisation?
Next question concerns the ARIC Committee: basically she wants to know if their oversight has been effective.
Mr Persson starts with the rate harmonisation. (I’ve already written this up for Coast News and Chronicle if you want to read the detail……)
He says Wyong has carried the burden in the three years since the merger.
He says gosford would have gone up by 26 per cent and wyong’s down by 20 per cent if the harmonisation had already been done. Council would have still received the same money.
On top of that is the special rate increase Mr Persson says the council needs.
The increase would be 42 per cent but he took the view it was easier to say how much people would pay each week and so spoke about $8 as an average weekly increase.
He has now found out Gosford had 12.5 per cent rate increase planned if they had not merged. I think he said 12.5.
The IT costs that people say are part of the merger are misinformed because both former councils were planning to spend big money on upgrading IT, he said.
Ms Cowley explains the total debt is $458M now rather than the $565m from the 30 day report.
Ms Cowley says council will roll out a calculator on the website so people can work out their rates rise and in the meantime residents can ask customer service.
On ARIC, she said they consume reports, they do not give reports to council. They test staff and ask questions on reports, she said. And their minutes are tabled at council meetings.
Third speaker is Marianne Hamilton from the E-petition story from a couple of weeks back (check my facebook page —- lol, sorry, I’m still having fun here).
She is talking about the proposal for the library and says aren’t you effectively broke?
She reckons it doesn’t sound like a lot of books are going to be there.
It doesn’t sound like the traditional library and when I had a look at the figures. 8M and 7M and 12M…..why do we need to spend this money and is it going to be a library as we know it?
Mr Persson said libraries as we know it, …..are changing and this has been a project with a high level of community support for some time and money set aside and we’re a long way down the track and the key to unlocking this building (Gosford chambers) and there is a space for council staff in the new building.
Director Julie Vaughan adds some more description about today’s type of libraries and yes, there will be space for council in the mult purpose function space.
Not the intention of being an administration building but space for interaction with residents – customer service.
She explains the money has already been collected.
Mr Persson agrees and says he has no intentions of changing previous council’s decisions.
But thanks for raising it with me.
Second speaker is Stuart Durie from Greater Lake Munmorah S Plan.
Shoot, already I’ve forgotten what the S stands for.
Mr Durie wants a fresh look at his situation. Sounds like it is a zoning issue. He wants residential zoning and council says maybe a planning potential for rural residential for some parts of the land. It is near a regional corridor for biiodiversity I think.
Mr Persson says he is reluctant to get involved in rezoning and he is not prepared to do anything further at this point.
Mr Durie tried to hand over an email from staff but Mr Persson had moved on to speaker three.
First speaker is Glenys from the Springfield Pond Wetland whose speech I posted yesterday.
She is now speaking off the guff, telling Mr Persson about the animals which use the pond.
Mr Persson asks Mr Cox to speak: he says staff tried to work co-operatively with the landowner and failure of that led to enforcement action.
Now getting advice on next steps.
Hoping action is imminent.
Mr Persson said he thinks council staff have it in hand and raising it gives it higher priority and we’ll keep an eye on it.
Meeting has started. No-one here from the public! Just me, a former mayor and four speakers.
Administrator Dick Persson said he had sad news: the death of former councillor Keith Whitfield.
Okay, I’m here. We look like we have four speakers tonight
Investment Report for January 2021
In case they don’t discuss this tonight.
Total net return on the portfolio for Council, in January was $368K, comprising entirely of
Hello council watchers.
I have set up this page and I will write here as I follow the meeting tonight.
I have allowed comments but I have no idea how you comment. Scroll down to the bottom and have a go and we will learn together.
I set up this webpage (thanks to one of my brothers, Graham, helping me) way back in 2017 but I have not posted a lot here.
It sounds like I will be back on Facebook by the time the next meeting comes along but let’s give this a go tonight while I’m still persona non grata.
Thanks for playing. Meeting starts at 6.30pm.