In 2014 the Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) established the T2S programme, standing for Transition to Sustainability. The purpose of this fund was to rectify an underlying operational deficit by saving money, maximising efficiencies, building productivity and to generate better outcomes.
By Rodger Pryce
The amount that the program would generate was $3.2m per annum.
These quotes and figures are repeated exactly from an Executive Message, released on 23rd June 2016.
There was more ‘good news’ in the release. The Special Rate Increase, which targeted – past tense please note – the spiraling cost of infrastructure renewal, termed a three year maintenance funding strategy was limited to only a 3.9% rate increase, against an annual requirement of $4.2m.
The actual percentage rate increase required to offset the $4.2m requirement, is not stated.
Roll forward to 2018, a document titled ‘Concept Design Study’ was released by the CHCC, this was a financial summary as to why the Cultural and Civic Space, made sound economic sense and, why it should proceed.
Page two of that document identified an amount of $10.5 million sitting in the T2S fund.
Clearly and I repeat, clearly, the reason for the establishment of this programme had not seen this money spent on what it was collected for from you.
Council, supported by four Councillors, including the Mayor, took this money, out of this programme and have put the $10.5 million cash, into the cost of the Cultural and Civic Space project.
Your money, collected from you, publicised by the Mayor and the General Manager for a cost saving purpose, hijacked from you, seems to have to disappeared into the Cultural and Civic Space (CCS) cost.
But it gets even worse.
The Concept Design Study identifies an anticipated shortage of funds, due to increased rental costs, during the construction phase of the building, so to prop that up, they have suggested that for subsequent years during the construction phase, the $3.2 million yearly collection of money, from you, stated by the Mayor and the General Manager on 23rd June 2016 to be used for efficiency and cost saving measures, is to go into propping up the new CCS.
Remember again, as we get closer to the election on 4th September this year that “Two Votes” Mayor Knight, Deputy Mayor Cecato, Councillors Townley and Adendorff have openly supported the collection of $3.2m per annum, from you, your money, including all of the $10.5 million in the T2S account, for the purpose of saving you money and instead have voted to take the lot plus more and use it to prop up new Council offices, with a poor excuse for Cultural ‘shared spaces’ in the mix.
In these times of extreme weather, which we will see more of, the condition of our services and infrastructure come to the forefront. And it’s a condition that is not good.
Ask yourself whether we have witnessed whether the Special Rate Levy, that was meant to offset the deficit in the operating account, has actually improved our LGA as was promised?
Is the England’s Road waste facility/tip part of the use that the Special Rate Levy was supposed to address?
There is more, a lot more.
Remember all this come the 4th September.
Remember the ‘Faulty Four.’ They have taken your money meant to be used for your betterment and then used it for something else, including new Council offices.
I feel sick. This is so, so wrong.
For more behind this article read the following 2014 story published by The Morning Bulletin; https://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/council-budgets-for-a-surplus-of-1557/2223675/
And yet more here from 2015 on the reasoning behind the actual T2S restructuring (restructures re only a one off accounting saving – how is it the T2S account still exists on CHCC books?) from the Queensland Times; https://www.qt.com.au/news/a-restructure-at-coffs-harbour-city-council-meant-/2809320/
Lead picture of CHCC GM Steve McGrath: Trevor Veale, formerly of The Coffs Coast Advocate.