Fit for the Future
On 10 September 2014, The NSW Government formally announced their response to the Independent Local Government Review Panel and Local Government Acts Taskforce recommendations.
The NSW Government wants councils to be “Fit for the Future” and they have put a comprehensive package of support and financial incentives to assist Councils achieve this, requiring them to:
- Enhance their own financial sustainability
- Be effective in the delivery of infrastructure and services
- Be more efficient
- Be of sufficient scale to engage across community, industry and government
Councils will need to submit a proposal on how they intend to become “Fit for the Future” by 30 June 2015.
This review will be assessed independently and Councils who are "Fit for the Future" will be eligible for incentives and support such as cheaper finance options, simplified reporting requirements, priority access to State funding and grants and options for additional planning powers.
The aim is for NSW Councils to be financially sound, operating efficiently and in a strong position to guide community growth and deliver quality services.
Some Councils have been identified as needing to merge to become "Fit for the Future". This is not proposed for Wollondilly Council, with the focus of this approach being more on metropolitan Councils and very small rural Councils.
For Councils to meet the infrastructure and service needs of their communities they need to be “financially sustainable”. This is defined as a Council which, over the long term, is able to generate sufficient funds to provide the level and scope of infrastructure and services, agreed with its community through the Integrated Planning & Reporting Process.
The criteria and benchmarks to determine whether a Council is financially sustainable and able to be effective in the delivery of infrastructure and services relate to matters such as:
- Operating performance ratio – whether we are predicting future operating surpluses or expecting to continue to run at a deficit.
- Own source revenue ratio – how much we rely on grants and external revenue sources.
- Infrastructure and asset backlog, maintenance and renewal ratios – all about the condition of our assets and infrastructure and what needs to be spent to bring them up to standard.
- Debt service ratio – how much debt we have to service with loan repayments.
The Special Rate Variation approved by IPART helps put Council on track to achieve these outcomes and be "Fit for the Future".
To find out more about "Fit for the Future" head to www.fitforthefuture.nsw.gov.au