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Monday, April 8, 2024

From the shire agenda Wednesday 28th February 2024

The Shire meeting was rescheduled to a new start time of 10:30 am as part of the preparations for the potential reinstatement of Councillors in September this year.

Mayoral (Administrator) Minute

Administrator Bob Stewart stated that unless advised otherwise, council staff were gearing up for the return of an elected council this year. He highlighted that council should anticipate an estimated cost of $406,200 in the first year and $288,700 annually over the subsequent three years for elections, provisioning, and councillor remuneration. These expenses would need to be covered by the Council’s General Revenue.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) is currently reviewing the NSW Council Financial Model to assess resources available to councils, their ability to meet expenses, fund core services, and maintain assets. Additionally, IPART will evaluate ways for councils to enhance and account for their budget performance.

Bob noted after the meeting that there is also a review underway concerning the Rural Fire Service “Red Fleet” and other assets, exploring how councils are expected to maintain financial accountability for assets they did not have a say in acquiring. Each time a new fire truck is allocated to a local brigade, it becomes an asset of the council, requiring depreciation charges as part of the annual rate payment.

Cost Shifting from State Government

Local Government NSW disclosed figures for the 2021-22 financial year revealing that since 2017-18, the state government has transferred an additional $540 million in costs to the 128 NSW Local Governments. The total estimated cost shifting amounts to $1.36 billion or $460.67 per ratepayer. Examples of cost shifting include Emergency Service contributions, the waste levy, forced rates exemptions, imposing additional regulatory functions, and funding shortfalls in essential services.

Financial Reports

Council remains in surplus; however, the introduction of new council arrangements may result in a deficit budget.

Human Resources

Council continues to collaborate with schools to provide work experience opportunities, aiming to expose students to potential careers at the Shire.

Wilcannia Weir

Council endorses the original weir design implementation.

Urban and Rural Addressing

Street numbers have been finalized and will be reflected in the council’s information systems, expected to be included in the rate installment notices in April.

Allocation of Names for Unnamed Roads

The council will publish a list of existing and proposed names for unnamed roads for public comment. The list will undergo review and endorsement by the Geographical Names Board.

Roads

$6 million has been allocated for roadworks, including a $1 million natural disaster grant application following recent storm damage.

Water & Sewer Treatment Plants

Works at White Cliffs are projected to conclude in November 2024. Agreements on funds and contracts for Wilcannia and Ivanhoe are nearing finalization. Asbestos Cement (AC) mains replacement works in Wilcannia have been completed, and sewer pump well upgrades are nearly finished.

Local Concerns

The community is mobilizing against the NSW Water Department’s decision to downgrade the new weir project, originally promised as a substantial infrastructure improvement. The lack of consultation has sparked widespread dissatisfaction, prompting various local organizations to demand the restoration of the initial plan.

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