Believe it or not

ears ago, those of us too old to admit to our age used to read a  daily column in our newspaper called  “RIPLEYS BELIEVE IT OR NOT”  I wonder what Ripley would have to say about the current stated financial position of the Coffs Harbour City Council?

For 2 years Rally Australia has run an event in the Coffs Harbour region.  Apparently last year the Rally generated $13.8 million by way of benefits. If Rally Australia knew the flow on benefits to the region and given the GeneralManager’s membership of the Rally Australia Board, it is a simple matter to justify proposed future expenditure. It is strange that the General Manager did not mention this in the paper put forward to Council seeking advanced payment for the 2017 Rally.

Unfortunately the current Council budget papers do not show any projected income flowing  directly to the council – which no doubt would then flow to the residents.  So is there any projected income or dividend that has a direct correlation to ratepayer expenditure?

It is a year since the the 2015 event and yet Council has not yet passed on all payments to past Sponsors. This reflects on the efficiency of the Council accounting system and management. The accounts should by now be available for community review.  If such action was up to date much of the emotion generated by the recent debate may well have been avoided.

The second matter attracting attention is the operation of the Coastal Works teams. Apparently some $2.4million in income was generated from major work done by contracting out services. This it is said is additional income available to council.

From these observations Coffs Harbour Council must be awash with funds.

But look at the disclosed financial position delivered as part of the process to seek an increase in the  rate levels. There is an unquantified level of arrears  ($70million) for maintenance and repairs to infrastructure. To address the problem the General manager “believe it or not”appeals to the community to agree to a 14% increase in the rate levels over 2 years.  Given the fact the Council “champions” a policy of open and transparent governance why did the general Manager submit an application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal which spanned 10 years?

Under the Transformation to Sustainability project, the General Manager is actively reducing the work force.  So the Conclusion “believe it or not” is that Council is overstaffed ( but how could you get arrears if this is so?  or the staff are deficient in the skills department. In any event the General Manager seems to be possessed with a magic formula to address the arrears  problem without the need for staff to do the work.

Such is the ability of the General Manager that the surplus staff (after the redundancies) can also be deployed to do specialist work outside Council. Obviously by getting rid of staff the arrears vanish and Council increases income.

Given  these facts why does Council want to impose a tax on vehicles using the beach? Surely the administrative costa would exceed the income, and if there is a huge increase to the income level why worry about such a small sum?

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