Council gets set to cut services

Central Coast Council Photo: Justin StanleyCentral Coast Council Photo: Justin Stanley

You can expect it to take 60 days to fix a pothole rather than the current 30 days under cuts to Central Coast Council services.

And Council is expecting more dirty water complaints as it plans to reduce the cycle of dead-end mains flushing from three months to six months.

These are just two of the cuts coming.

Council has listed the service cuts residents can expect even if IPART agrees to a 15 per cent rate rise, with that decision to be announced in May.

At the latest Council meeting, the Directors of Council’s five main Departments outlined the cuts Council is making.

The Infrastructure Department will see emergency repair response times still the same but low risk road repairs will be slower; traffic reviews will take longer; the backlog of repairs will rise to five per cent then reduce in the future.

There will not be any changes to the waste service.

Slower response times for water outages can be expected with lower priority on pro-active work such as flushing dead end mains which will reduce the frequency of this activity.

Council will need to rely on contractors if major damage occurs in extreme weather events.

The Environment and Planning Department will have slower processing times for applications and reduced response times for complaints with priority given to safety or environmental issues.

There will be a reduction in strategic planning projects.

The Community and Recreation Department will significantly reduce the number of events including Australia Day at The Entrance and Toukley and New Year’s Eve at Gosford waterfront.

Staff numbers will reduce in libraries and education facilities.

The Entrance Library will close.

There will be a 40 per cent reduction in community grants; a 50 per cent reduction in school holiday programs and a 30 per cent reduction in town centre services including fewer garbage collections and barbecue cleans and reduced attention to high priority areas such as Kibble Park in Gosford.

Playing fields during peak season will be maintained less frequently.

Council will have a reduced capacity to take on new assets such as Gosford waterfront park and South End Park, Gwandalan.

After listening to the list from the directors, Administrator, Dick Persson, adopted Council’s General Fund Long Term Financial Plan which shows Council’s forecast position both with, or without, a potential 15 per cent special rate variation.

Council also adopted an updated Debt Recovery and Hardship Policy.

“A number of informed assumptions have been made in the General Fund Long Term Financial Plan,” Council said.

There will be a reduction in staff costs to headcount levels at amalgamation and increases moving forward are for award and legislated superannuation guarantee increases and a reduction in materials and contracts with increases capped at 0.5 per cent including efficiencies and containment of costs.

Infrastructure spending will remain at the same level as is funded by depreciation and has been put in place for 2020-21 and Council will manage and monitor costs and find further efficiency and productivity gains.

Persson said that modelling in the plan showed that without a 15 per cent special variation, Council will not be financially sustainable and will be unable to repay the restricted funds that had been spent on projects the community had benefited from.

“We are legally obligated to repay the restricted funds which were not spent with the necessary authorisations,” he said.

“With a 15 per cent special variation, Council will be able to repay $100M within 10 years by delivering modest budget surpluses.

“I understand this is difficult times for many in our community – particularly as our region once again looks to recover from severe weather impacts to households and businesses.

“We are here to help, and rebates and payment plans are available.”

The General Fund Long Term Financial Plan and Debt Recovery and Hardship Policy received 33 submissions during the 29 day public exhibition period.

While the submissions were reviewed and considered, no changes were made to the documents, Council said.

Merilyn Vale