34 per cent increase in Council election costs

The Central CoastThe Central Coast Council Wards. Archive may 2017

The cost of next year’s Council election has blown out to an estimated $2.15M for the Central Coast, a 34 per cent increase from the 2017 election, which was the first after the amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong councils.

The cost estimate from the NSW Electoral Commission amounted to “highway robbery”, Councillor Greg Best said.

Mayor, Lisa Matthews, said the Electoral Commission was a monopoly and Council’s hands were tied.

She said a whole of NSW campaign was needed to fight the unfair increases and that Local Government NSW was seeking to speak to the NSW Government on behalf of a number of councils that had received significantly increased cost estimates that could not be explained by CPI increases or population growth.

“What extra services are the ratepayers getting for the extra 34 per cent? ’’ Cr Matthews said. “The question needs to be answered. ”

Central Coast Council agreed in March this year to use the Electoral Commission to run the next Council election. An estimate from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal put the 2020 bill for Central Coast Council at $1.723M, an eight per cent increase from the 2017 election.

However, the Electoral Commission’s final cost estimate shows that the total cost to council is estimated to be $2,147,083.

This is $424,000 more than figures published in IPART’s Final Report on August 30, 2019.

The report to council on the matter said Local Government NSW had raised the matter with the Office of the Minster for Local Government and staff there had shown concern as the Government funding was intended to help alleviate cost impact for councils.

Clr Best asked CEO Gary Murphy if the Council could run its own elections. Murphy said that had been considered but quickly dismissed and was not something he would recommend.

Source: Agenda item 4.4 Central Coast Council Meeting, Nov 11 Interview, Nov 12 Central Coast Mayor, Lisa Matthews Reporter: Merilyn Vale

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