From the Mayor’s desk: MidCoast Mayor Claire Pontin

AS we move into the year Councillors are firmly focused on our finances and will be spending a lot of time over the coming months developing our 2024-25 budget.

It is important for us to invest this amount of time to set our work program and our budget to ensure we are making strategic financial decisions for our community.

We will be reviewing our fees and charges to ensure they are commensurate with the services provided, looking at our costs and expenditure and what we will be delivering in our works program for the year.

We also set the direction of the organisation’s focus for the 2024-25 year to guide staff with their delivery of services to the community.

For this year our focus areas are: customer service, local and regional roads, financial sustainability, economic development, climate actions, culture and development assessment.

This forward planning is a key part of the role of Councillors and we will be meeting on an almost weekly basis to guide this process and are committed to supporting a balanced budget that delivers services to our community.

We will also be reviewing our Long-Term Financial Plan because we need to be financially sustainable into the future.

Cost shifting

At the most recent Council meeting I tabled a Mayoral minute that called on the issue of cost shifting from the State Government to be addressed.

The motion received the support of Councillors who resolved to write to the Premier, NSW Treasurer, and the NSW Minister for Local Government requesting them to urgently address the issue.

Over the last decade the State Governments have continued to pass costs that were previously borne by them onto local Councils

This is increasingly eroding Council budgets with costs like the State Emergency Services Levy, the State Waste Levy and the reimbursement of only 50 percent of the mandatory pensioner rebates.

The passing on of State costs to Councils puts the financial sustainability of local councils at risk and limits their capacity to deliver grassroot services for the community and vital local infrastructure that is declining across the state – notably like the local road network.

This motion followed the release of a cost shifting report produced by independent consultants.

It revealed for the 2021-2022 financial year an amount of $1.36 billion was passed on to Council ratepayers in that year.

That figure represents an additional $460 for each ratepayer across the state each year.

By MidCoast Mayor Claire PONTIN

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