The Road to Financial Sustainability – Bridging the Gaps – The Next Step

After the last two years of seriously examining our options for finding a way forward to financial sustainability, we have turned a corner in addressing the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future benchmarks and completed the Rural Council Template Submission. The adoption of a 20-year Long Term Financial Plan in February 2015 was the combination of a number of converging strategies that resulted in Council committing to a plan for Kyogle’s future that addressed our growing infrastructure backlog and the continuing lack of available financial resources to tackle this problem.

Commencing in 2013, after the release of the NSW Treasury Corp Financial Sustainability Report and the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s report, Council and staff starting working on options and initiated a project called “The Road to Financial Sustainability – Bridging the Gaps”.  By researching and developing differing options for the way forward, we refined our Public Consultation Strategy and provided the Community with opportunities for input using information sessions, surveys, newsletters, letterbox drops, and a multitude of information through our website.  The result of all this work is our new Long Term Financial Plan.  This Plan has anchored our financial strategies into the future and provided the base for our revised Integrated Planning and Reporting regime that includes the Delivery Plan 2015/2019 and Operational Plan 2015/2016.  Among the major options that were investigated and not progressed were the merger options with Richmond valley or Lismore Councils (mentioned in the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s report) with the results of those discussions detailed in Council’s Fit for the Future Rural Council Template submission.

The other major impact on Kyogle Council ratepayers, as a result of the adoption of these strategies, is the approval of a special rate variation by IPART that will come into effect in 2015/2016 and continue until 2019/2020.   Council examined a range of rate variations and published the results with a preferred option that trod the middle ground between no rate increase and very significant rate increases. As has been validated in Council’s Fit for the Future submission, without these measured financial decisions with their long term impacts, Council would have had no strategy to address the Government’s local council reform agenda.  While this increase in rates will be hard on ratepayers the alternatives of doing nothing or being merged, and the unknowns attached to either of these options, was not acceptable to Council.

We feel the proactive approach that has been taken, places this Council on a road to financial sustainability that will benefit residents into the future.  The Fit for the Future submission details our plan towards sustainability and we are hopeful of being assessed as a Fit for the Future Rural Council.

Cr Danielle Mulholland