Despite a finding by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) that Kiama Municipal Council is one of the two thirds of NSW councils that are not ‘fit for the future’, Mayor Brian Petschler is confident Kiama will continue to stay independent. See Council’s media release below.
The result from the analysis of the self-assessment by Council was unexpected, as indications have been positive throughout the process.
It is apparent the process was clouded by the construction investment needed for the new aged care facility before it becomes an income source for Council.
The IPART Report says a merger between Kiama and Shoalhaven councils “would likely perform better in terms of long-term financial sustainability, in particular for Kiama given the potential efficiencies available from a merger.”
It also suggests that Shellharbour, which also was judged ‘not fit’, should merge with Wollongong.
Council now has thirty days to submit a response to the Local Government Minister which pleads its case.
Deputy Mayor Warren Steel is confident Kiama will remain independent. “We are safe,” he says.
Councillor Andrew Sloan is less optimistic, but determined to fight. “The analysis by IPART was too simplistic and flawed, but it will be difficult for them to accept this. We need the State to look beyond 2018 and see that Kiama Council is in a very strong financial position….much stronger than Shoalhaven,” he says. He is encouraging people to lobby Gareth Ward to urge the government to look at the bigger picture.
OFFICIAL RESPONSE: THE FULL TEXT OF KIAMA COUNCIL’S MEDIA RELEASE
Kiama Council believes that the organisation is in a good position to remain independent based on the IPART report released yesterday.
The IPART report states that: ‘Our analysis has not identified evidence for a better alternative to the council’s proposal to stand alone’.
The main criteria being used by the State Government to assess potential mergers is the ‘scale and capacity’ category. Kiama Council has satisfied this criteria and therefore we believe Kiama will remain independent.
Despite meeting most of the criteria, Council is disappointed with other conclusions drawn by IPART in the report. Council is confident that the issues raised in the report are addressed in our long term financial plans.
Kiama Council is concerned some of the assessment methodology used for this evaluation does not take into account our sustainable long term financial plans.
We also note that the assessment contains ambiguous comments and inconsistencies that we will raise in our response to the State Government’s assessment.
Kiama Council is particularly concerned that the sustainable long term financial and social gain, which will result from the completion of the Centre of Aged Care Excellence, was not properly considered by IPART.
However, we note the report points out the Council will “meet the benchmark for the ‘own source revenue ratio’ by 2019-20”.
“I believe that Council is close to meeting the assessment, when taking proper account of our investment in the Aged Care Centre of Excellence and our involvement in a key trial Joint Organisation”, says Mayor Brian Petschler.
“I have spoken to Member for Kiama Gareth Ward and note his support of Kiama Council as a sound and well performing local government body.
“I believe that Kiama Council is in a good position to remain autonomous while continuing to provide valuable services to our local community.”