COUNCIL BRIEFS: 5 outcomes from monthly meeting held 26 April


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Council to apply for 2.5 per cent rate rise

Clarence Valley Council will apply for a single year variation of 2.5 per cent for financial year 2022/23.

Council’s 2022/2023 Budgets and Capital Works Program had been prepared on the assumed Consumer Price Index (CPI) informed rate peg of 2.5 per cent as advised by the Independent Pricing and Regulator Tribunal (IPART) prior to review of its methodology and as adopted in Council’s 2021/2022 Long Term Financial Plan.

The historic low rate peg of 0.7 per cent was handed down by IPART to Clarence Valley Council late last year – this represented a 1.8 per cent reduction on projected income, equivalent to $670,000 – despite surging inflation, soaring fuel and other commodity prices as well as a mandated Local Government wage rise of 2 per cent.

In recognition of the inherent reduction in services and loss of employment in the local government sector in regional and rural areas, the Minister for Local Government announced the opportunity under Section 508(2) of the Local Government Act for councils to seek a special variation to a maximum of 2.5 per cent.

The item attracted significant debate among the councillors at the April meeting. The mover of the motion Cr Karen Toms highlighted real examples ranging from an increase of 36 cents to $5.16 per week to illustrate the costs to residents, while seconder Cr Peter Johnstone said he calculated the average increase across the whole Clarence Valley worked out to be under 50 cents per week.

“It turns out to be $22.43 (per year) because we’ve got lots of houses at the lower end and few houses at the more expensive end,” Cr Johnstone said.

“Throughout the campaign and over social media we see people regularly talking about the services which need to be maintained. I know several councillors here campaigned very strongly about roads and if we do not vote for this we’re going to find that more difficult.”

After the 6-3 resolution in favour of the 2.5 per cent special variation, Council will now submit an application to IPART for a permanent single year special variation of 2.5 per cent.

Part three of the motion stipulated that Council continues to achieve efficiency gains through service reviews and corporate process improvements in the meantime.

Integrated Planning & Reporting documentation on public exhibition

Each year Council prepares a draft Operational Plan and accompanying documentation under the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework (IP&R), which is enacted under the Local Government Act 1993.

The documentation underpins the activities of the Council, achieves the direction set by the elected members in the Delivery Program and the aspirations identified by the community in the Community Strategic Plan, Clarence 2032.

Council voted to endorse the following draft IP&R suite of documentation for public exhibition and invite the public to make written submissions until close of business on Monday, 6 June 2022:

The Fees and Charges 2022-2023 was also endorsed for public exhibition.

Clarence Valley Aboriginal Consultative Committee to be re-established

A Mayoral Minute to re-establish the Clarence Valley Aboriginal Consultative Committee received unanimous support at the Council meeting.

The committee is intended to provide ongoing direct access for the region’s Aboriginal communities and organisations to raise their issues to Council.

During the Corporate and Governance report, Council endorsed the nominated members of the following five proposed advisory committees:

  • Clarence Coast & Estuary Management Advisory Committee
  • Clarence Valley Access Committee
  • Clarence Valley Community Climate Change Committee
  • Cultural and Community Advisory Committee
  • Floodplain Risk Management Advisory Committee

Membership was also endorsed for the following 355 committees:

  • Calliope Community Reserve & Hall 355 Committee
  • Ewingar Community Hall 355 Committee
  • Illarwill Hall 355 Committee
  • Jackadgery Hall 355 Committee
  • Wooloweyah Parks and Reserves 355 Committee

Framework guides Council’s disaster risk reduction efforts

Clarence Valley Council adopted the Disaster Resilience Framework to inform future strategic decision making and planning.

The 41-page document guides Council’s whole-of-organisation effort to proactively implement disaster risk reduction and resilience in its infrastructure and business processes to improve community resilience and minimise the losses and disruption caused by natural disasters in the Clarence Valley.

Strategies in the framework include:

  • Consider potential avoided loss and broader benefits in all relevant decisions;
  • Identify highest priority disaster risks and mitigation opportunities;
  • Build capability and capacity of decision-makers addressing disaster risks;
  • Develop practices that adapt to rapid social, environmental, economic and cultural change;
  • Establish proactive incentives, and address disincentives and barriers, to recovery and reducing disaster risks.

More medical services on the way for Grafton

Council has approved a modification to the development consent for a health services facility comprising a private hospital and medical centre in Queen Street, Grafton.

The modifications to the facility adjacent to Grafton Base Hospital include a reduction in the number of medical suites from seven to four, and private hospital beds from 30 to 22.

The design incorporates the former Albion Hotel building.

The modification also proposes nomination of a pharmacy and pathology in the facility.

The recommended motion for ITEM 07.22.064 was one of 12 on the meeting agenda carried by consent, while 15 items attracted debate in a meeting that lasted more than four hours.

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