Council just like average family

OUR council is like a family with a mortgage which at times struggles to pay the bills, the general manager says.

Under the comparison, both parents work, they have three children at school and sometimes battle to meet the bills and commitments.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council general manager Tony Hayward said the council was not extended to the max but it would like to be in the position to deliver projects faster.

“From a financial position, we are definitely not broke,” Mr Hayward said.

“We are reviewing our operations to ensure we are delivering services and outcomes for our community in the most efficient and effective way.”

For example, two multi-purpose tractors – one based at Laurieton and another at Port Macquarie – can mow roadside verges to the sports stadium thanks to interchangeable attachments.

It could clean beaches but another attachment would be needed.

Our council has a $187 million backlog of works including $172 million in roads alone.

Thee road upgrades – Hastings River Drive, Houston Mitchell Drive and Bago Road – eat up about $35 million of the backlog.

The backlog jumps to $500 million to provide a road network to meet current and future needs.

The state of our roads is a constant bugbear with residents.

Special rate rises have boosted the council’s revenue but that means a hit to ratepayers’ hip pockets.

Road-related projects and continued parks maintenance, funded by the latest special rate rise, are dotted across the area.

Mr Hayward admitted, from his perspective, the council was not “travelling fantastic” but had the capacity to deliver outcomes for the community.

He said the council was probably luckier than other local government areas because of population growth and new urban areas starting to build greater momentum.

More than 18,400 extra people are expected to call the area home by 2021.

“More ratepayers deliver more revenue to the council which will enable us to at least continue to provide the services we are [providing] while chipping away at the backlog of works,” he said.

“Our situation is improving but slowly.”

Councils statewide face cost shifting, rate pegging and spiralling costs.

Local government finances, structures and the way councils deliver services in the future are under the microscope.

An independent review panel believes the system of local government looks superficially well enough but is really in quite poor shape.

The panel’s final report is due in July.

Council's general manager Tony Hayward says council struggles to make ends meet - just like the average family.

Council's general manager Tony Hayward says council struggles to make ends meet - just like the average family.


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