Wingecarribee Shire Councillors have tonight unanimously voted to adopt Council’s Fit for the Future submission.
“Tonight’s decision to formally adopt Council’s Fit for the Future proposal marks a significant milestone in our Shire,” said Wingecarribee Shire Mayor, Councillor Duncan Gair.
“It describes how we propose to guide our Shire’s growth and deliver quality services in-line with our community’s expectations in the years ahead,” he said.
“Not only does it highlight where we meet the State Government’s benchmark reforms, but it also details our short-comings and importantly, proposes a range of improvement strategies to achieve the remaining benchmarks.”
Fit for the Future submissions were requested by the NSW State Government from all councils across the State by the 30 June.
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 a 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 hasn’t been 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,” the Mayor said.
In particular, a review found that Wingecarribee Shire Council was not sufficiently investing 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,” Councillor Gair 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 is also included in the adopted submission.
These include reviewing existing fees and charges, looking at Council’s existing maintenance programs, reviewing Council’s assets and service levels and revising in-house procurement programs.
“In all likelihood it will also include a Special Rate Variation following community consultation,” the Mayor said.
Council’s Fit for the Future submission will now be presented to IPART for determination.
Councillors unanimously congratulated Council’s General Manager Ann Prendergast and staff of Council on the preparation of the proposal.
“While tonight marks the conclusion of many months work by staff of Council preparing this submission, the real slog bringing all our assets and services up to par has only just begun.”