Wingecarribee Shire Council will hold a series of public Information Kiosks starting this Saturday 10 October to discuss the possibility of implementing a Special Rate Variation (SRV).
The Information Kiosks are part of a series of community engagement activities endorsed by Councillors at the Ordinary Council Meeting of 26 August 2015.
The decision to begin consultation follows a recent Asset Survey undertaken by Council.
“Back in August Council commissioned an independent consultant to undertake an asset survey,” explained Council’s General Manager, Ann Prendergast.
“This report revealed that residents were relatively supportive of a proposal by Council to increase funding for its assets including parks, stormwater drainage and buildings,” Ms Prendergast said. “This report follows on the back of a community satisfaction survey undertaken in July which highlighted roads and general infrastructure as some of the areas requiring most urgent attention.”
The customer satisfaction survey follows on from Council’s Fit for the Future Improvement Action Plan submitted to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in June this year. One of the identified key improvement strategies of this endorsed action plan included an application to IPART for a Special Rate Variation.
“Our Fit for the Future submission was a significant milestone document for this Shire,” Ms Prendergast said. “It detailed how we proposed to guide our Shire’s growth and deliver quality services in-line with our community’s expectations in the years ahead.”
“It highlighted where we both met the State Government’s Fit for the Future benchmarks but also detailed our short-comings and our proposed improvement strategies to achieve the remaining targets.”
Under the Fit for the Future reforms, councils across the State had to meet a series of ‘fitness’ criteria relating to scale, capacity and financial health.
In an earlier review undertaken by the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel, Wingecarribee was categorised as sustainable in its current form and not recommended for amalgamation.
“Even though our Shire wasn’t earmarked for a merger and we had a healthy financial platform from which to prepare our submission, we still have much work to do to meet the remaining criteria and prove we can remain as a stand-alone Council,” Ms Prendergast said.
In particular, the review found that Wingecarribee Shire Council needed to invest more in asset renewals.
“This means we need to spend more money on existing infrastructure like our roads and footpaths or face a larger bill down the track as they deteriorate with age,” the General Manager added. “It’s an issue not unique to our Shire and is a situation being grappled with across all levels of government.”
A range of strategies to meet the remaining benchmarks by 2020 was included in the adopted submission including an SRV application. This application would form part of Council’s broader long-term financial sustainability approach.
The first Information Kiosk will be held Saturday 10 October from 8am to 1pm at the Bowral Markets within the Bowral Public School, Bendooley Street, Bowral.
Further kiosks will be held over the weekend at the Home and Garden Show in Bowral and the Robertson Markets. Subsequent Information Kiosks will be held across the Shire throughout the month of October.
“We’ll be visiting various locations and attending numerous events throughout the Shire,” Ms Prendergast said. “We encourage as many people as possible to attend to learn more about the proposal.”
Meetings scheduled for Wednesday 21 October at the Moss Vale Civic Centre will also feature question time with senior management of Council.
In coming days households across the Shire will also receive an information booklet detailing different funding scenarios and options. This will include a Reply Paid postcard survey and will be further followed up by a random telephone survey and an online survey.
“It’s really important that our residents provide us with their feedback and opinions because ultimately, their decision will influence the course of action that Council proposes,” Ms Prendergast said.
“We’re waiting to hear how our residents want our Shire to look and feel in the years ahead.”
For more information including the full schedule of public Information Kiosks visit Council’s online consultation hub www.yoursaywingecarribee.com.au.