You might have received an email from the Lane Cove Council (LCC) alerting you to Lane Cove Council’s Operational Plans, Budget and Draft Fees (the Budget Papers) and asking for your comments. It was sent out in the middle of home isolation and with so much COVID19 news you may have missed the email or were not aware that you could comment on LCC’s Budget Papers.
LCC Budget Papers must be approved before the start of each financial year. You only have until 5 pm tomorrow to comment (it has taken ITC over a week to look through the documents and read the 176 Page Budget line by line). You don’t have to read the Budget Papers line by line but you should read the operational plan and look at the fees and charges.
Each Year NSW Local Council must put in place an Operational Plan that details a Delivery Program, identifying individual projects and activities that will be undertaken in a specific financial year to achieve the commitments made in their four-year Delivery Program.
The Office of Local Government Website provides the following guidance for local councils:
“In essence, the Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) framework begins with the community’s, not councils, aspirations for a period of at least 10 years. (ITC’s emphasis). It includes a suite of integrated plans that set out a vision and goals and strategic actions to achieve them. It involves a reporting structure to communicate progress to the council and the community as well as a structured timeline for a review to ensure the goals and actions are still relevant.”
“It should be apparent how the Operational Plan activities work towards achieving the Delivery Program, and in turn work towards achieving the objectives of the Community Strategic Plan. The activities of the Operational Plan are enabled by the Resourcing Strategy.”
The Operational Plan must include the council’s detailed annual budget, along with the council’s Statement of Revenue Policy (ie the rates and levies ) and charges (such as parking charges at LCC carparks) in the next financial year.
The Delivery Program list 6 Strategic areas established by the Lane Cove Community Strategic Plan – Our Natural Environment, Our Built Environment, Our Society, Our Culture, Our Local Economy and Our Council.
Below are some of the issues ITC will be highlighting in our comments to Lane Cove Council.
|Our Society – Community Health and Wellbeing
|Lobby for more before and after school care integrated with Schools||Lobbying is not good enough. Other Local Councils are actively involved in providing After School Care services. This is an area that is growing. Each year we see stressed parents worrying about after school care.|
|Our Society – Community Health and Wellbeing
|Implement and promote wellness programmes focussing on physical activities such as programmes for seniors, Get Up and Go, Open Outdoor for Kids and Move More in March and sport and recreation programs for young people||Move More in March has no funding allocated for the next couple of years|
|Our Society – Recreation
|Develop a Master Plan for Bob Campbell Oval Greenwich||The notes to the Budget Papers state this will be funded by a Grant. The Grant was only recently submitted. How can you develop a plan with feedback from the community if you have already ascertained the cost of implementing the plan?
How can you include a grant in budget funding that may or may not eventuate?
Amount Budgeted is
20/21 $ 1.5 Million
21/22 $2.1 Million
|Our Society – Library||Last year the Lane Cove Council resolved to look at extending Sunday hours and opening earlier. Where is this provided for or even discussed in the budget?|
|Our Society – Community Safety
|Attend Community Policing Meetings||More needs to be done. Lane Cove Council should be looking at CCTV at parks where there has been extensive vandalism lately.|
|Our Society – Community Safety
|Promoting a sense of community spirit and encouraging a safe vibrant community including initiatives for Open Space (e.g. street library or garden)||Street Library Programme is working well.
We need community gardens like the old permaculture garden at Uniting Church
Funding for info on Verge Gardens and helping with them.
|Our Natural Environment
|Develop integrated waste management initiatives
Household Garbage Collection
|Why do the Budget Notes say there is an additional cost to the Woodlawn Facility? What is the status of this Contract – see our article on issues with Organic Waste.|
|Our Natural Environment
|Promote Community Reuse Centre for household items||What is the community reuse centre? Is it the same as the Community Recycling Centre|
|..further activate retail spaces within the Lane Cove Village||Why is focus only on the Lane Cove Village? Why are there not programmes to revitalise footpath and street furniture in local area shopping areas in the suburbs? Businesses in those areas pay rates.|
|Ongoing identification of initiatives to enhance the transparency of Council decision making and performance
|Lane Cove Council needs to put in place a resolution tracker so residents can track resolutions, can see when they are implemented and search the Lane Cove Council website to see if Lane Cove has discussed a particular issue. All Lane Cove policies should be easy to find on the Lane Cove Council Website. Read more here.|
|Implement new Code of Conduct
|The Code of Conduct was adopted in May 2019. It should have been implemented by now.|
|Strengthen risk management to sustain and enhance service delivery while ensuring staff and community well-being
|Two recent incidents have shown Lane Cove Council does not have in place a risk assessment/emergency plan to assist the community in times of crisis
(For example, the February Storms some residents were without power and services – other councils responded quickly to help residents.
COVID19 – Lane Cove Council did not take action in a timely manner to close off community areas and provide signage and information and to lead by example. )
In the Budget Papers Briefing Note to Councillors it was noted:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have significant financial impacts on Council and the community. Council will continue to manage the budget in a financially sustainable manner, however there will be significant impacts on the immediate and future operating environment and the delivery of Council’s objectives as the situation evolves. Council is anticipating an operating deficit of $4.2 million in the 2020/21 financial years as a direct consequence of the pandemic.
The 2020/21 Draft Budget has been assembled during unprecedented times. Initially, the draft budget was formulated based on Council’s usual activities and a balanced budget was achieved. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Council has seen a substantial change in revenue expectations in the following areas:-
- Child & Occasional Care;
- Bookings and Events;
- Commercial leasing;
- Footpath licencing;
- Parking Revenues; and
The operating result budgeted for in the 2020/21 financial year is a deficit of $4,200,000. After grants and contributions Council’s surplus is $ 14,025,185. The operating deficit still allows Council the ability to maintain the LGA’s assets at a safe, reliable and sustainable level while still responding to our commitments from the community.”
2020/2021 Rates for Residents/Businesses
The Rates/Charges Revenue for 2020/21 are budgeted to be $34.1M and include a general rate increase of 2.6% as determined by IPART.
Residential Rates and Charges
Residents will be charged 0.107419 cents in the dollar, on the Land Value of all Rateable Land categorised as Residential (with the exception of heritage properties which are rated on their heritage value), with a Minimum Rate of $913, to yield $19,800,072
The Council Briefing papers also noted that the draft Budget provides for the levying of a Domestic Waste Management Charge of $445.00 for each 80 litre Mobile Garbage Bin (ie the red lidded bins).
It is also proposed to levy a stormwater levy of $25 per residential or business property and $12.50 per residential strata unit. The levy is proposed to raise $303,750.
It was not clear from the briefing notes if these were new charges – so ITC checked our rates notice and noticed we were paying those levies last year. Local councils must levy a domestic waste charge. By the way, the amount advised above by Lane Cove Council staff to our councillors is wrong the amount to be charged in the FY 20/21 for domestic waste is $456.50.
Business Rates and Charges
Businesses will be charged 0.566491 cents in the dollar, on the Land Value of all Rateable Land categorised as Business in with a Minimum Rate of $933 to yield $5,715,804.
However, there is a proposal to levy a Car Parking Special Rate on Business premises in the Lane Cove Village of 0.196777 cents in dollar with a minimum rate of $2 per assessment, to raise $173,375. This revenue continues to repay internal borrowing to finance The Canopy Car Park. Is this the time to be imposing a levy on our local businesses? Many of them lease property and their landlords will pass this on as outgoings. Should this cost be borne by the major tenants in The Canopy?
Lane Cove Council last year declared a climate emergency and undertook to look at ways to reduce Lane Cove’s carbon footprint. The budget does not fund any forums for the engagement and empowerment of locals. If change is to be made, Lane Cove Council must actively seek to engage locals on this issue – hold public forums or zoom meetings, ask for feedback on social media, seek and welcome ideas and empower locals to implement their ideas. Council is an ideal leadership position to facilitate the change we need to see at the local level. Offering knowledge and education to the public is a good start but it is not sufficient in and of itself. It is through empowering local initiatives and harnessing local energy and creativity that Council will effect the largest change.
There are small steps which can be taken for example Lane Cove Council is budgeting on increased postage costs. Why is council spending more on postage when most organisations are reducing these costs by focusing on electronic communication. When we recently had the Lane Cove Council inspect a tree to prune the dead branches and trim the branches so they are not over our neighbour’s fence, the “tree inspector” told us it would be a couple of days before we got approval as he had to post his report to council. We lodge the application online and all communication was online but the approval letter came by snail mail and was eaten in our letterbox by snails.
This consultation started pm 23 April 2020 and ends on 5 June 2020.
Documents to Review
Draft Delivery Program and Operational Plan 2020-21,
Draft Budget 2020 – 21
Draft Fees and Charges 2020 – 2021.
Community Strategic Plan – Liveable Lane Cove 2035
Council Report – 20 April 2020
Council Resolution – 20 April 2020
How To Comment
You can have your say by making a submission to the General Manager quoting ‘Council Plans SU7417’ by:-
Post: PO Box 20, Lane Cove 1595;
Email: [email protected]
Submissions close at 5 pm on Friday 5 June 2020.
Be “In the Know” with In the Cove
To make sure you don’t miss Lane Cove info sign up to our newsletter. It comes out every Wednesday at 7.30 pm and includes every article published in the previous week and all Lane Cove News, Events and more.