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10 May 2022 Posted by 

LONG TERM STABILITY FOR BUSINESS

Coast Council rates to be maintained
DALLAS SHERRINGHAM
COAST businesses face another seven years of paying for Central Coast Council’s financial implosion following an announcement by IPART.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved Council’s 2022 Special Variation to maintain rates at their current levels for an additional seven years, equaling 10 years in total to 2031.
 
There is anger in business circles that struggling businesses hit  by COVID lockdowns have to pick up the tab for the gross mismanagement of the Council.
 
It was compounded by the snubbing of the business community in the Public Inquiry into Council’s record financial failure. This in turn has seen major Coast investors such as the Lederer Group sell up their Coast interests and reinvest elsewhere.
 
And international investors involved in major projects such as the Union Hotel site redevelopment have abandoned their Coast interests with the land placed on the real estate market.
 
However the announcement at least gives business in the region some long term stability, which is vital for long term planning and budgeting.
 
The appointed administrators and management team were left with an almost impossible position when they took over. Any plan to save Council and reposition it on the long road to recovery inevitably meant higher rates. 
 
Council’s Administrator Rik Hart said IPART’s determination supporting the continuation of Central Coast Council’s current rate structure for a further seven years was a sensible decision.
 
“This outcome allows Council to continue to maintain current service levels, comply with current banking requirements and most importantly, allows us to continue without interruption our 10-year long-term financial plan that provides long-term financial stability for the organisation,” Mr Hart said.
 
“It’s a decision that factors in the unique situation this Council was in and the recommendation made by the Public Inquiry Commissioner ‘for the Administrator to ensure the completion of the Business Recovery Plan as adopted and amended by Central Coast Council since October 2020.’
 
“It has taken time, but we now have two independent entities on the same page.
 
“We’ve achieved one of the most significant financial turnarounds of any organisation in under 12 months, with the current and forecasted surpluses repaying the emergency loans over the next 10 years.
 
“For the community – there is no increase to your rates. This is a continuation of the current rates you pay with the exception of the rate peg as determined by IPART every year.
 
“Now that we finally have an outcome, I have requested the CEO and senior staff to examine services where we’re not delivering to community expectations and reflect this in future operational plans for an incoming Council to consider.
 
"I encourage the community to review the draft plan when it goes on public exhibition. Now is the time to provide feedback on where you want to see improved service levels,” Mr Hart said.
 
Council’s CEO, David Farmer said this major milestone would draw a line under the Council’s financial crisis and the organisation can focus on consolidating and improving the performance of the organisation.
 
“We are currently performing better than budget, with a high level of staff vacancies, but we know this is causing difficulty in our delivery of services to our customers in a number of areas,” Mr Farmer said.
 
“Now that we have longer-term stability for our rates revenue, we can carefully reinvest in services where we are not currently meeting community expectations of service levels, for example into our vast road network and vegetation management.
 
“I recognise this has been a difficult time for the community and I thank you for your patience, understanding, and for your comments and contributions about what needs to be done to improve Council and services,” Mr Farmer said.
 
The Draft Long Term Financial Plan and Delivery Program will be considered in the Ordinary Council Meeting on May 24 to be placed on Public Exhibition for public comment at yourvoiceourcoast.com.
 
For more information about the Special Variation process and submission, FAQs and information about hardship assistance, go to Council’s website.
 


editor

Publisher
Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

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