AGENDA


Finance and Governance Committee

 

Monday, 09 December 2019

6.00pm

 

Waratah Room, Ground Floor,

Georges River Civic Centre

Hurstville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 2

 

          Finance and Governance Committee

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Opening

2.      Acknowledgement of Country

3.      Apologies / Leave of Absence

4.      Notice of Webcasting

5.      Disclosures of Interest

6.      Public Forum

7.      Confirmation of Minutes of Previous Meeting  

MINUTES: Finance and Governance Committee - 11 November 2019 (17/1831)

8.      Committee Reports

FIN082-19         Investment Report as at 31 October 2019

(Report by Senior Financial Accountant - Reporting)............................................. 3

FIN083-19         Property Matter - Quarterly Commercial Property Portfolio Report

(Report by Strategic Property Specialist)................................................................. 21

FIN084-19         Code of Conduct Statistics 2019

(Report by Governance and Risk Specialist).......................................................... 23

FIN085-19         Adoption of the Georges River Debt Management and Hardship Policy 2019

(Report by Chief Financial Officer)........................................................................... 25

FIN086-19         Georges River Boundaries, Wards and Number of Councillors

(Report by Manager, Office of the General Manager)........................................... 40

FIN087-19         Property Matter - 8A Johnstone Street (Johnston Street Reserve), Peakhurst - Proposed Easement to Drain Water From Adjoining Property

(Report by Strategic Property Specialist)................................................................. 48  

9.      Confidential (Closed Session)

FIN032A-19       Property Matter - Carrington Road, Hurstville

(Report by Head of Strategic Property)

 

 


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 10

Committee Reports

Item:                   FIN082-19          Investment Report as at 31 October 2019 

Author:              Senior Financial Accountant - Reporting

Directorate:      Business and Corporate Services

Matter Type:     Committee Reports

 

 

 

Recommendation:

That Council receives and notes the contents of the Investment Report as at 31 October 2019.

 

 

Executive Summary

1.      This report details Council’s performance of its investment portfolio as at 31 October 2019, and compares it against key benchmarks.

2.      This report also includes the estimated market valuation of Council’s investment portfolio, loan liabilities and any required update on Council’s legal action against various parties.

3.      Council’s annualised rate of return is 2.51% which is 0.86% above benchmark. Income from interest on investments totals $1.3m which is $193k more than the 2019/2020 year-to-date adopted budget.

Background

4.      Council’s Responsible Accounting Officer is required to report monthly on Council’s Investment Portfolio and certify that the Investments are held in accordance with Council’s Investment Policy and Section 625 of the Local Government Act (NSW) 1993.

Investment Performance Commentary

5.      Council’s performance against the benchmark for returns of its investment portfolio for October 2019, are as follows:

 

1 Month

3 Month

12 Month

Portfolio Performance

0.15%

0.45%

2.51%

Performance Index

0.08%

0.25%

1.65%

Excess

0.07%

0.20%

0.86%

Notes:                                                      

a)      Portfolio performance is the rate of return of the portfolio over the specified period.

b)      The Performance Index is the rate of return of the market (comparable securities) over the specified period.                                    

c)      Excess performance is the rate of return of the portfolio in excess of the Performance Index.

 

 

6.      Council’s investment portfolio as at the end of October was as follows:

Security Type

Market Value $000's

% Total Value

At Call Deposit

3,923

2.36%

31 Day Notice Account

3,041

1.83%

Consolidated Cash Fund

6,190

3.73%

Covered Floating Bond

1,010

0.61%

Flexi Deposit (Fix/Float)

6,000

3.61%

Floating Rate Deposit

5,000

3.01%

Floating Rate Note

55,145

33.49%

Floating Rate TCD

501

0.30%

Term Deposit

78,541

47.27%

Managed Funds Trust

6,301

3.79%

Total Cash and Investments

166,152

100.00%

 

7.      At the end of September 2019, Total Cash and Investments were $177m and have decreased by $11m at the end of October 2019.

8.      Council continues to utilise the Federal Government’s current guarantee ($250k) investing in Term Deposits with a range of Authorised Deposit Taking Institutions (ADI’s) on short to medium term investments (generally 30 days to 180 days maturity).

Legal Matters

9.      Georges River Council is participating in a Group Class Action against Fitch Ratings Inc., in respect of losses suffered on the Corsair (Cayman Islands) No.4 Ltd Series 6 Kakadu Collateralised Debt Obligation (CDO) notes. Council suffered a capital loss of $214,812 on these investments dating back to December 2006, and will seek damages of the capital loss including lost interest as part of the action. There is no update on this matter, in terms of an outcome as at 31 October 2019.

Borrowings

10.    Council’s loan liability, as at 31 October 2019 was $1.5m, which represents the balance of a $5m/10 year loan drawn down on 16 November 2012 for the Jubilee Park upgrade in Mortdale. The next repayment of $125,000 is due on 23 December 2019.

11.    The outstanding balance on this facility is at a variable interest rate of 194 basis points above the three month BBSW. At the current three month BBSW rate, the interest rate payable is 2.81% pa.

12.    Council receives a 4% p.a. subsidy under the NSW Government’s Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme funding agreement for the Jubilee Park upgrade facility. It is intended to continue this financially-advantageous arrangement through to full term in 2022.

 

 

 

 

Policy Limits

 

13.    The graph below shows the Investment Rating limits, as a percentage of total cash investments, which are allowed under Council’s Investment policy. It also compares them to the amounts actually invested, as a percentage of the total cash investments. It shows that the funds invested are within the limits set in the Investment Policy.

 

Investment Income

14.    Income from interest on investments to 31 October 2019 is $1.3m, which is $193k more than the 2019/2020 year-to-date adopted budget.

15.    Investments have been made in accordance with the Local Government Act (1993), Minister’s Guidelines, Regulations and Council’s Investment Policy.

Analysis of Investments

Investment Duration

Investment Term

Market Value ‘000

% Total Value

Policy Limits

0 to < 1 Year

80,330

48.35%

100%

1 to < 3 Years

76,316

45.93%

70%

3 to < 5 Years

9,506

5.72%

50%

Portfolio Total

166,152

100.00%

 

 

16.    Council’s portfolio is liquid, with 48.35% of assets maturing within 12 months. FRNs, At-Call Funds and Fixed Bonds also provide additional liquidity in an emergency.

17.    The following graphs show analysis of the total cash investment by institution:    

 

 

 

Type of Investments

18.    The majority of Council’s investment portfolio is made up of fixed term deposits, which account for approximately 51% of total investments.

19.    Bank Floating Rate Notes (FRN) offer liquidity and a higher rate of income accrual, which is highly recommended by our Investment Advisors (CPG Research & Advisory).

20.    The following are the types of investments held by Council:

a)      Cash and Call Accounts refer to funds held at a financial institution and can be recalled by Council either same day or on an overnight basis.

b)      An FRN is a debt security issued by a company with a variable interest rate. This can either be issued as Certificates of Deposit (CD) or as Medium Term Notes (MTN). The interest rate can be either fixed or floating, where the adjustments to the interest rate are usually made quarterly and are tied to a certain money market index such as the Bank Bill Swap Rate.

c)      A Fixed Term Deposit is a debt security issued by a company with a fixed interest rate over the term of the deposit.

d)      A managed fund is a professionally managed investment portfolio that individual investors can buy into, purchasing 'units' rather than shares. Each managed fund has a specific investment objective. This is usually based around the different asset classes (cash, fixed interest, property and shares). The money you invest is used to buy assets in line with this investment objective. When you invest in a managed fund, you are allocated a number of 'units'. The value of your units is calculated on a daily basis and changes as the market value of the assets in the fund rises and falls.

* These managed funds have been grandfathered since the NSW State Government changed the list of Approved Investments as a result of the Cole enquiry (which was reflected in the Ministerial Order dated 31/7/2008).

Credit Rating

21.    Credit ratings are generally a statement as to an institution’s credit quality. Council’s Investment Advisors (CPG Research & Advisory) use Standard & Poor’s Credit ratings to classify the investments held by Council. Ratings ranging from AA to BBB (Short Term) & AA to BBB (long term) are considered investment grade.

22.    A general guide as to the meaning of each credit rating that Council deals with is as follows:

Short-term

AA:            The best quality companies, reliable and stable. An obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation is very strong.

A:               The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation is still strong but is somewhat more susceptible to the adverse effects of changes in circumstances and economic conditions.

BBB:          Adequate capacity to meet financial commitments, but adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to weaken the obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitments.

Unrated:   This category includes unrated Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADI’s) such as some Credit Unions and Building Societies to the extent not Commonwealth-guaranteed. No rating has been requested, or there is insufficient information on which to base a rating.         

Long-term

AA:            Quality companies, a bit higher risk than AAA. An obligor has very strong capacity to meet its financial commitments. It differs from the highest-rated obligors only to a small degree.

A:               Economic situation can affect finance. An obligor has strong capacity to meet its financial commitments but is somewhat more susceptible to the adverse effects of changes in circumstances and economic conditions than obligors in higher-rated categories.

BBB:          Medium class companies, which are satisfactory at the moment. An obligor has adequate capacity to meet its financial commitments. However, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of the obligor to meet its financial commitments.

Unrated:  This category includes unrated Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADI’s) such as some Credit Unions and Building Societies to the extent not Commonwealth-guaranteed. No rating has been requested, or there is insufficient information on which to base a rating.

 

23.    The credit quality of Council’s portfolio is relatively high with approximately 75% of assets rated ‘A’ or higher. The ‘AAA’ assets represent the deposit investments covered by the Federal Government’s Financial Claims Scheme (FCS).

24.    The remaining 25% rated ‘BBB’ or ‘unrated’ reflects the deposit and FRN investments with the regional and unrated ADIs.

Update on AMP Bank Downgraded to BBB+

25.    On 27 August 2019, S&P Global Ratings lowered its global ratings for AMP Limited and its subsidiaries from “A-“ to “BBB+” in response to AMP Group revealing plans to sell its life insurance business unit to Britain’s Resolution Life in early August 2019. S&P Global believes the sale of the insurance unit means AMP’s earnings reliance on its wealth and investment management operations as well as its small domestic banking unit will materially weaken the group’s credit profile and lower its future diversification. As at 31 August 2019, Council had approximately $14m invested with AMP Bank.

26.    In-line with Council’s current practice of only dealing with institutions who have  investments that are globally rated A and above, Council has commenced progressively reinvesting the AMP Term Deposit and At Call Account funds with institutions with the appropriate global rating.

27.    As at 31 October 2019, Council has reduced its investments with AMP to $8m, as follows:

Investment Type

Market Value ‘000

At Call Accounts

3,041

Floating Rate Notes (FRN)

5,000

Total Cash and Investment with AMP

8,041

28.    In October 2019 Council transferred $5.4m of the AMP At Call Investments to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Council has also provided formal notice for the transfer of the remaining $3m in the At Call Accounts which, based on AMP’s release process, is anticipated to be reinvested with other institutions in early December 2019.

29.    The FRN’s will mature between May 2021 and March 2022 and at this stage, due to the current investment interest rates that are being offered and the advice received from CPG Research & Advisory, no change will occur until maturity. This, however, will be monitored on a monthly basis.  

Council’s Investment Powers

30.    Council’s investment powers are regulated by Section 625 of the NSW Local Government Act (1993), which states:

·        A council may invest money that is not, for the time being, required by the council for any other purpose.

·        Money may be invested only in a form of investment notified by order of the Minister published in the Gazette.

·        An order of the Minister notifying a form of investment for the purposes of this section must not be made without the approval of the Treasurer.

·        The acquisition, in accordance with section 358, of a controlling interest in a corporation or an entity within the meaning of that section is not an investment for the purposes of this section.

31.    Council’s investment policy and strategy requires that all investments are to be made in accordance with:

·        Local Government Act 1993 - Section 625

·        Local Government Act 1993 - Order (of the Minister) dated 12 January 2011

·        The Trustee Amendment (Discretionary Investments) Act 1997 – Sections 14A (2), 14C (1) & (2)

·        Local Government (Financial Management) Regulation 1993

·        Investment Guidelines issued by the Department of Local Government

 

Reserve Movement Overview

32.    Council’s investment portfolio is allocated across a variety of reserves which are used for funding future projects such as capital works or asset acquisitions. The Council has two types of reserves: Externally Restricted Reserves and Internally Restricted Reserves.

33.    Externally Restricted Reserves include funds raised for sewerage, domestic waste, Environmental Levy, Section 7.11 and Section 7.12 Contributions, Voluntary Planning Agreement, Town Improvement such as car parking facilities, anti-litter services etc. and can only to be used for the purpose they were raised.

34.    Internally Restricted Reserves are created to ensure Council has sufficient funds for a specific internal purpose.

35.    On 6 October 2019, $1.8m was funded by the Commercial Property Reserve to settle the acquisition of a property located at 36-40 Penshurst Street, Penshurst.

Financial Implications

36.    Income from interest on investments totals $1.3m, which is $193k more than the 2019/20 year-to-date adopted budget.

 

37.    On 1 October 2019, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut the official cash rate by 0.25% to a record low of 0.75%. The RBA is now targeting the goal of reaching “full employment” rather than simply reducing the unemployment rate. In order to achieve full employment, it is likely to expect an “extended period” of low interest rates.

 

Risk Implications

38.    Enterprise risk/s identified and management process applied.

39.    Council’s enterprise risk identified was ‘poor financial management adversely impacts Council’s long term financial sustainability’. The risk has been managed by Council’s management of investments in accordance with the relevant act and regulations, along with Council adopted Investment Policy. To further minimise the risk, Council will progressively move towards the placement of investments only in investments rated A or above.

Community Engagement

40.    No community consultation is required as a result of this report. Members of the community are able to attend and address Council at the Council meeting in relation to this matter in accordance with Council’s Code of Meeting Practice.

 

File Reference

D19/263718

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment 1

Investment Report as at 31 October 2019

 


Georges River Council -         Finance and Governance Committee - Monday, 9 December 2019

FIN082-19              Investment Report as at 31 October 2019

[Appendix 1]          Investment Report as at 31 October 2019

 

 

Page 14

 


 


 


 



 


 


 


 


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 20

Item:                   FIN083-19          Property Matter - Quarterly Commercial Property Portfolio Report 

Author:              Strategic Property Specialist

Directorate:      Business and Corporate Services

Matter Type:     Committee Reports

 

 

 

Recommendation:

That Council receives and notes the Quarterly Commercial Property Portfolio Report for the quarter ending 30 September 2019.

 

Executive Summary

1.      At its meeting on 1 May 2017, Council resolved to report regularly on the Commercial Property Portfolio and other associated leases and licences.

Background

2.      The report includes information on the commercial properties within the portfolio including commercial car parking.

 

3.      These reports will no longer detail quarterly results of leases and licenses for sporting and community facilities. Leases and licenses for community facilities will be communicated to Council in future through the Councillor Information Bulletin.

 

4.      The report is an evolving document and responds to the ongoing audit of Council’s commercial leases and licences and the execution of new leases and licences.

5.      The following leases were recently approved under delegation of the General Manager:

Property

Tenant

Term

1D Greenbank Street, Hurstville

Active and Ageless (55 Plus Pty Ltd)

Five years with a five year option

84 Railway Parade, Kogarah

Deborah and Nehemiah Pty Ltd

Five years with a five year option

Part Ground Floor 2 Belgrave Street, Kogarah

Opulent Property

Five years with two x five year options

Suite 1C, 34 MacMahon Street, Hurstville

Jack Jacovou (existing tenant)

Three years with a three year option

Suite 2E, 34 MacMahon Street, Hurstville

St Vincent de Paul Society (existing tenant)

Two years

Road adjacent to 1022 Forest Road, Lugarno

Rita Kastanias

Three years with two x three year options

 

 

6.      The table below shows the performance of the portfolio for Q1 of the 2019/20 financial year.  A list of commercial properties can be found in Attachment 1 of this report.

 

 

7.      There is currently a 4.5% vacancy rate across the portfolio with zero (0) rental arrears being reported.

 

Financial Implications

8.     Budget implications have been highlighted in the table above.

Risk Implications

9.     No risks have been identified as a result of this report.

 

Community Engagement

10.   No community engagement is required for this matter.

 

 

File Reference

17/2939

 

 

 

  


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 22

Item:                   FIN084-19          Code of Conduct Statistics 2019 

Author:              Governance and Risk Specialist

Directorate:      Business and Corporate Services

Matter Type:     Committee Reports

 

 

 

Recommendation;

That Council receive and note the report on the Code of Conduct Complaints Statistics for the period ending 30 September 2019.

 

 

Executive Summary

1.      Clause 11.1 of the Procedures for the Administration of the Code of Conduct requires Council’s Code of Conduct Complaints Coordinator to report details of any complaints received about Councillors and the General Manager under the Code of Conduct, within three months of the end of September of each year.

Background

2.      Council is required to adopt a Code of Conduct in accordance with s440 of the Local Government Act 1993 and the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005. The statistics provided in this report are required to be reported in accordance with the adopted Procedures for the Administration of the Code of Conduct.

 

Total number of code of conduct complaints made about Councillors and the General Manager under the code of conduct in the year to September 2019

10

The number of code of conduct complaints referred to a conduct reviewer

8

The number of code of conduct complaints finalised by a conduct reviewer at the preliminary assessment stage and the outcome of those complaints

3

 

The number of code of conduct complaints investigated by a conduct reviewer

5

The number of code of conduct complaints investigated by a conduct review committee

0

The outcome of investigations completed under these procedures (without identifying particular matters)

0

The number of matters reviewed by the Office and, without identifying particular matters, the outcome of the reviews

4

The total cost of dealing with code of conduct complaints made about Councillors and the General Manager in the year to September, including staff costs.

$17,805

 

3.      Council is to provide the Office with a report containing the statistics referred to in clause 11.1 within 3 months of the end of September of each year.

 

 

Financial Implications

4.      The total cost of dealing with Code of Conduct complaints of $17,805 has been allowed in Councils 2019/20 budget.

 

Risk Implications

5.      The consideration of this report ensures that Council meets the requirements of the Administration of the Code of Conduct and compliance reporting obligations to the Division.  

6.      No operational risks have been identified.

 

Community Engagement

7.      No community consultation is required as a result of this report. Members of the community are able to attend and address Council at the Council meeting in relation to this matter in accordance with Council’s Code of Meeting Practice.

 

 

  


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 26

Item:                   FIN085-19          Adoption of the Georges River Debt Management and Hardship Policy 2019 

Author:              Chief Financial Officer

Directorate:      Business and Corporate Services

Matter Type:     Committee Reports

 

 

 

Recommendation

(a)     That Council adopt the attached Georges River Debt Management and Hardship Policy 2019.

(b)     That the General Manager be delegated authority to make formatting and minor editorial adjustments to the adopted Debt Management and Hardship Policy 2019.

 

Executive Summary

 

1.      The Draft Debt Management and Hardship Policy was adopted by Council for public exhibition on the 23 September 2019.

2.      During the public exhibition period, no public submissions were received following the 28 day community consultation period, which closed on 13 November 2019.

3.      However, during the public exhibition period, internal feedback was gained to include existing statutory obligations for the sake of completeness of the policy. These statutory obligations have been consolidated into this policy under the heading ‘Additional Pensioner Hardship Assistance – Concessions’, as follows:

·    Concession Amounts

·    Pensioner Eligibility

·    Granting of a Concession

·    Pensioner Deferment of Rates.

4.      On 25 November 2019, Council also resolved to approve the provision of one free position in a Georges River Council Childcare Centre to families experiencing hardship within the Georges River Council local government area commencing in February 2020. The policy in its current form provides for this provision, therefore no changes are required to be made to the policy.

Background

 

5.      The purpose of this policy is to provide a consistent, fair and transparent framework that outlines Council’s position on how it will collect monies owing, assess hardship claims, provide assistance to those ratepayers who suffer genuine financial hardship and where necessary, recover overdue payments to manage debt.

6.      The policy has been developed based on the Debt Management and Hardship Guidelines published by the Office of Local Government in November 2018 and relevant legislation and regulations.

7.      The Debt Management and Hardship Guidelines were issued by the Office of Local Government in November 2018, to outline best practice approaches for councils to better manage ratepayer debt and respond to genuine hardship.

8.      The Guidelines promote a range of strategies and actions councils can use to help ratepayers pay on time including:

·   simplified rates notices including information in relevant languages;

·   options for ratepayers to receive their rates notices by email and pay electronically;

·   flexible payment options including weekly, fortnightly and monthly instalments as well as tailored plans;

·   discounts to provide incentives for prompt payment in full;

·   use of Centrepay as a voluntary way for people to pay their rates directly from their Centrelink payments;

·   greater discounts for pensioners facing hardship; and

·   a ‘stop the clock’ approach to suspend debt recovery, legal action and interest accrual while a ratepayer’s hardship application is awaiting determination or while they are complying with a payment plan.

9.      Council’s draft policy has been developed in consideration of the above. A number of the above items will take time to implement but are all considered worthwhile initiatives for Council to aim to implement.

10.    A high-level summary of major items include, but are not limited to:

·    New hardship options;

·    Introduction of ‘stop the clock’, which is an approach to suspend debt recovery, legal action and interest accrual while a ratepayer’s hardship application is awaiting determination or while they are complying with a payment arrangement.

·    Defined responsibilities of relevant Council officers;

·    30 day credit term, unless bound by relevant legislation;

·    Performance expectation for the issuing of invoices 3 business days after the provision of service;

·    Interest charge or late fee for all overdue debts, as per the annual Fees and Charges;

·    Introduction of a reminder notice for non-rate debts, in lieu of a statements; and

·    Legal recovery processes with clear timeframes and escalation points.

11.    Following the exhibition of the Draft Debt Management and Hardship Policy, Council adopted the following at its meeting held on Monday 25 November 2019:

‘That Council approve the provision of one free position in a Georges River Council childcare centre to families experiencing hardship within the Georges River Council local government area from February 2020.’

12.    Currently there are a small number of vacancies in some of Council’s six early learning centres. A free childcare placement would be allocated from a current vacancy in the Children’s Services portfolio from February 2020. Offering a position to a family experiencing hardship is consistent with the Georges River Council Community Strategic Plan objective 5.4 to provide accessible facilities and services to a diverse community. This initiative is also consistent with the Children’s Services Strategic Plan objective 2: developing strong relationships with local agencies to provide positive outcomes for children.

13.    In accordance with Section 356 of the Local Government Act 1993, Council may ‘contribute money or otherwise grant financial assistance to persons for the purpose of exercising its function’. As a result of the Council resolution the Draft Georges River Council Debt Management and Hardship Policy was reviewed and no amendments were required, as the draft policy provides the framework for administering the resolution of Council. The policy outlines the relevant documentation, approval and annual reporting process for Council officers to follow.

Financial Implications

 

14.    For 2018/19 financial year, Council received $130,000 in interest income from overdue rates and annual charges.

15.    Introduction of this Policy and the ‘stop the clock’ initiative will impact income; though the impact of this initiative is not anticipated to have a material impact.

16.    Council provides the mandatory rebate to eligible pensioners under section 575 of the Local Government Act 1993, up to a maximum of $250 per assessment. The NSW Government grants a subsidy of 55% on rate rebates. Council’s share of the mandatory subsidy equates to approximately $900,000 of lost income.

17.    In addition to the mandatory rebate, Council has introduced a voluntary flat rebate of $150 to be applied against the annual domestic waste management charge. The rebate is based upon pensioner eligibility criteria and the estimated annual cost of the rebate is $1.2 million and rising.

18.    In total, Council forgoes approximately $2.1 million in rates and annual charges income annually to provide the mandatory and voluntary pensioner rebates.

19.    The financial implications of providing subsidised childcare is estimated to be between $83 and $110 per day, dependent on the childcare centre and the level of subsidy applied by the Australian Government Department of Education. The 2018/19 average subsidy across Children’s Services was 53.3%. The estimated annual cost of a placement with an average of three (3) days per week is between $6,000 and $7,500.

20.    The cumulative total of written off interest and hardship concessions are reported annually to Council.

Risk Implications

21.    Enterprise risk/s identified and management process applied.

22.    Operational risk/s identified and management process applied.

Community Engagement

 

23.    Community engagement was conducted including the 28 day exhibition period, allowing the community to comment on the content of this Policy.

 

File Reference

D19/201537

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment 1

Debt Management and Hardship Policy  2019 PDF

 


Georges River Council -         Finance and Governance Committee - Monday, 9 December 2019

FIN085-19              Adoption of the Georges River Debt Management and Hardship Policy 2019

[Appendix 1]          Debt Management and Hardship Policy  2019 PDF

 

 

Page 38

 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 46

Item:                   FIN086-19          Georges River Boundaries, Wards and Number of Councillors 

Author:              Manager, Office of the General Manager

Directorate:      Office of the General Manager

Matter Type:     Committee Reports

 

 

 

Recommendation:

(a)     That Council consider the boundary adjustment proposals contained within the report and determine whether to explore any boundary adjustments to align with Federal Electoral Boundaries, or other rationalisation of boundaries.

(b)     That Council consider the options contained within the report in regard to the number of wards and determine whether to proceed with any alteration to the number of wards within the Georges River local government area.

(c)     That Council consider the options contained within the report in regard to the number of councillors and determine whether to proceed with any reduction to the number of councillors within the Georges River local government area. 

(d)     That Council consider the option contained within the report in regard to the introduction of a popularly elected Mayor within the Georges River local government area and determine whether to proceed with that option. 

 

 

Executive Summary

1.      In June 2019, Council considered a report on this same matter and resolved at that time to defer consideration until after a Councillor workshop.

2.      In August 2018 Council resolved to prepare a report to explore a range of options available within the Local Government Area (LGA) in regard to the number of wards, number of councillors, ward boundaries and LGA boundaries.

3.      Additionally, the council of an area that is divided into wards is required under Section 211 of the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) to keep ward boundaries under review.  Under Section 211, a council will be required to alter its ward boundaries if the number of electors between wards in its area differs by more than 10%.

4.      The current variance in Georges River LGA is approximately 9.7% (Australian Electoral Commission, November 2019). Although Georges River currently complies with the Act, ongoing development in the LGA is likely to affect future compliance. 

5.      Proposals to alter ward boundaries or the number of councillors within a Local Government Area (LGA) must be conducted in accordance with the procedures outlined by the Act.  Variations are limited by the Act which imposes a minimum and maximum number of councillors, and limitations on the minimum number of councillors per ward.

6.      This report explores possible configurations and the process that would be required to implement them should Council decide to proceed to explore any of the configurations.

 


 

Background

7.      Council resolved on 27 August 2018 that the General Manager provide a report which addresses the following:

a)        Options available to rationalise local government area boundaries where anomalies currently exist between Federal, State and Local electoral boundaries;

b)        Options available to alter the number of wards within the local government area;

c)         Options available to reduce the number of Councillors within the local government area;

d)        Possible future locations of ward boundaries that could exist under an alternative ward arrangement within the local government area;

e)        The process required to be followed under the Local Government Act 1993 to progress any reduction in the number of wards or Councillors.

8.      As mentioned in paragraph 1, this matter was also presented to Council in June 2019, where Council resolved to defer consideration until after a Councillor workshop.

9.      A Councillor workshop was provided on 21 October 2019.

 

Boundary Adjustments to Overcome Anomalies

10.    Federal Electoral Divisions, State Electoral Districts and the LGAs are designed and approved under separate mechanisms and rarely align. Council has the option to attempt to align, as much as possible, to either Federal or State boundaries but it is not usually possible to align to both.

 

Amalgamation with Bayside Council

11.    Amalgamation with the former Rockdale Council to form a St George Council was previously explored by the former Kogarah and Hurstville Councils prior to the 2016 merger of NSW councils (Refer Proposal 5 at ATTACHMENT 5).

12.    There was significant community support for such a merger within Rockdale Council LGA at the time with this merger being the most popular merger proposal by residents.

13.    On 25 May 2016 the former Rockdale City Council, resolved, inter alia, to acknowledge the strong heritage and brand of St George across the three Councils and to make a submission seeking amalgamation of Kogarah, Hurstville and Rockdale Councils to form a St George Council.

14.    Subsequently, the delegate (Peter Peppin) who reported on the merger proposal recommended to the Minister for Local Government in August 2016, “that the proposed merger of Georges River Council (formerly Kogarah and Hurstville City Councils) and Rockdale City Council proceed, subject to consideration by the Boundaries Commission and approval by the Minister for Local Government”.

15.    However, since that time Rockdale Council was amalgamated in September 2016 with Botany Bay Council to form Bayside Council.  Bayside Council currently has 102,131 electors across 5 wards.

16.    Since that merger occurred there has been no apparent community interest in pursuing a further amalgamation with Georges River to form a larger ‘St George’ Council.  Hence, this option has not been further examined in this report.

 

 

 

 

Alignment with Federal Electoral Boundaries

17.    The closest alignment of boundaries is between Georges River LGA and Federal electorates. The Georges River LGA currently encompasses parts of the Cook, Barton and Banks Federal Electoral Divisions.

 

Proposal 1:

Proposes an amalgamation of the areas located in Riverwood and Narwee between the Georges River Council LGA and Watson Electoral Division boundary lines by making use of the M5 motorway which lies on the Watson boundary line and the natural boundary of Salt Pan Creek which is also the boundary of the State Electoral District of Oatley.  These areas are currently located within the Canterbury Bankstown LGA (Refer Proposal 1 at ATTACHMENT 1).

Proposal 2:

Proposes an amalgamation of the area located east of the Georges River Council LGA boundary which is located in the Cook Electoral Division, bounded by President Avenue.  This area is currently located within the Bayside LGA.  This amalgamation would result in the entire Federal Electoral Division of Cook located north of the Georges River being located within the Georges River LGA.  (Refer Proposal 2 at ATTACHMENT 2).

Proposals 3 – 9:

A range of other options were explored in terms of possible boundary adjustments to the Georges River LGA.  However, after further investigation these options were not pursued due to lack of relevant communities of interest and no alignment with existing electoral boundaries (Refer Proposals at ATTACHMENTS 3 to 9).

 

Amalgamation and Boundary Alteration Process

18.    The alteration of the existing boundary of an LGA and the amalgamation of two or more LGAs occurs by proclamation of the Governor upon review of a proposal made by the Minister, by an affected council, or by an appropriate number of electors (Section 218E of the Act).

19.    A ‘Boundary Adjustment Proposal’ would be submitted in circumstances where Council was seeking to address boundary anomalies, which have minimal impact on electors. An ‘Amalgamation Proposal’ would be pursued in circumstances where Council is seeking to expand the LGA in a manner that would include electors who are currently in another LGA. Both proposals above would be defined as an amalgamation proposal.

20.    Prior to the submission of any proposal it is recommended that Council approach all affected stakeholders to determine current views towards rationalisation of LGA boundaries.  After having regard to any stakeholder feedback, if Council wishes to proceed with a proposal to either amalgamate or alter the LGA boundary, Council should provide the Minister with a proposal.

21.    The Minister must refer a proposal for examination to the Boundaries Commission.  After receiving a formal response, the Minister may then recommend to the Governor that the proposal be implemented, that it be implemented with modifications, or that it be declined. The process that the Minister must undertake is detailed in Section 218F of the Act. The role of the Boundaries Commission is detailed in Section 263 of the Act.

22.    If Council was to pursue a boundary adjustment or amalgamation, the outcome of these processes would determine the final ward structure (if any) and the number of councillors within the LGA.

 


Options Available to Alter the Number of Wards and Councillors

23.    Possible ward arrangements for a council area are determined by Sections 224 and 224A of the Act.  A council must have at least five (5) and not more than fifteen (15) councillors, one (1) of whom is the Mayor, and may not have fewer than three (3) councillors per ward.

24.    Within these parameters a number of ward and councillor configurations for the current Georges River LGA would be feasible, as shown in Table 1 below:

 

Table 1 – ward and councillor configurations

Option

Ward

Councillors Per Ward (min 3)

Total Councillors (5-15)

Electors Per Ward (average)

Electors Per Councillor (Average)

A

0

N/A

5

94,722

18,944

A1

0

N/A

7

94,722

13,532

A2

0

N/A

9

94,722

10,525

A3

0

N/A

12

94,722

7,894

A4

0

N/A

15

94,722

6,314

B

2

3

6

47,361

15,787

B1

2

4

8

47,361

11,840

B2

2

5

10

47,361

9,427

B3

2

6

12

47,361

7,894

B4

2

7

14

47,361

6,766

C

3

3

9

31,574

10,525

C1

3

4

12

31,574

7,894

C2

3

5

15

31,574

6,315

D

4

3

12

23,680

7,894

E

5

3

15

18,944

6,315

 


 

Table 2 below provides details for comparison of other councils.

Council

Wards

Councillors

Electors Per Ward (Average)

Electors

Electors Per Councillor (Average)

Willoughby Council

4

13

11,584

(popularly elected Mayor)

46,337

3,564

Georges River Council

5

15

18,944

94,722

6,315

Bayside Council

5

15

20,169

100,846

6,723

Campbelltown City Council

0

15

107,832

107,832

7,188

Camden Council

3

9

21,858

66,575

7,286

Penrith City Council

3

15

46,914

140,743

9,383

The Council of the Shire of Hornsby

3

10

33,024

(popularly elected Mayor)

99,072

9,907

Fairfield City Council

3

13

43,369

(popularly elected Mayor)

130,107

10,008

Sutherland Shire Council

5

15

33,272

166,361

11,091

Blacktown Council

5

15

42,239

168,957

11,263

City of Sydney

0

10

120,890

(popularly elected Mayor)

120,890

12,089

Canterbury Bankstown

5

15

45,869

182,757

12,183

Liverpool City Council

2

11

69,007

(popularly elected Mayor)

138,014

12,547

 

 

 

 

Average

9,196

 

25.    Maps depicting the various ward configurations outlined in Table 1 are attached to this report as ATTACHMENTS 10 to 15. These are based on an LGA consisting of 0 and 5 wards.

 


 

Popularly Elected Mayor

26.    A review may be undertaken to determine preference for election of the Mayor. The Act provides for either election of Mayor by councillors from among their number for a period of 2 years, or election of Mayor by electors (‘popularly elected Mayor’) for a period of 4 years.

27.    A change to a popularly elected Mayor would require a constitutional referendum and would take effect from the next ordinary election after the decision is made.

 

Process to Change the Number of Wards or Councillors within a LGA

28.    Any changes to ward boundaries, the number of wards, the number of councillors or the introduction of a popularly elected Mayor requires the council to hold a constitutional referendum.

29.    A council may alter ward boundaries (Section 210(3) of the Act), however prior to doing so council must consult the Electoral Commissioner and the Australian Statistician on the proposed ward structure “to ensure that, as far as practicable, the proposed boundaries of its wards correspond to the boundaries of appropriate districts (within the meaning of the Electoral Act 2017) and census districts”.

30.    Council must publically exhibit the proposed alteration (Ward Boundary Plan), giving notice of where the plan can be inspected, the dates of the exhibition and the dates of the submission period.

31.    A change in the number of councillors would require a constitutional referendum. A council must have at least five and not more than fifteen (15) councillors. A council that is divided into wards must have at least three (3) councillors per ward (Section 224A(9) of the Act).

32.    Council must give no less than 42 days public notice of the proposed resolution. If the resolution is passed by council, this is then forwarded to the Minister together with a summary of any submissions received and comments concerning those submissions. If approved by the Minister, the number of councillors is reduced to the number specified in the application with effect on and from the day appointed for the next ordinary election of councillors after the application is approved.

33.    The process must be completed and referred to the Minister not less than 12 months before the next ordinary election in order for it to take effect at the next ordinary election.

 

Financial Implications

34.    Council’s Election Reserve is estimated to have a balance of $1.27 million as at 30 June 2020.  However, Council has entered into a contract with the Electoral Commission to conduct the 2020 local government election at a cost of $853,091.  Payment of this amount will leave a remaining balance of $416,909 in late 2020.

35.    Advice has been sought from the Australian Electoral Commission regarding the cost of undertaking a constitutional referendum as part of the 2020 councillor elections. It is estimated that this would be approximately $150,000 - $200,000 if a traditional referendum was undertaken.  However, those costs can be significantly reduced should Council decide to undertake a postal vote, rather than a traditional referendum.

36.    Costs associated with undertaking a referendum could be offset against future savings should the number of councillors in Georges River be reduced.  For example, a reduction in councillors would result in annual savings in Councillor expenses as follows:


 

 

Proposed total number of councillors

Average Annual cost

Average Annual saving

(incl. Mayor)

 

 

15

$1,702,950

$0

14

$1,589,420

$113,530

13

$1,475,890

$227,060

12

$1,362,360

$340,590

11

$1,248,830

$454,120

10

$1,135,300

$567,650

9

$1,021,770

$681,180

8

$908,240

$794,710

7

$794,710

$908,240

6

$681,180

$1,021,770

5

$567,650

$1,135,300

** Note: Average annual cost per Councillor in 2018/19 includes Councillor Fees, Ward Funds and other expenses.

 

Risk Implications

37.    The Enterprise Risk Management Strategy contains two relevant actions in regards to the provision of an open, accessible and transparent decision making and meeting process.  The consideration of this information through the meeting process ensures that these actions are achieved.  

 

Community Engagement

38.    The form of community engagement to be undertaken would be determined by the course of action to be taken by Council, and would be discussed accordingly in a further report.

 

File Reference

D19/273166

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment 1

Proposal 1 - published in separate document

Attachment 2

Proposal 2 - published in separate document

Attachment 3

Proposal 3 - published in separate document

Attachment 4

Proposal 4 - published in separate document

Attachment 5

Proposal 5 - published in separate document

Attachment 6

Proposal 6 - published in separate document

Attachment 7

Proposal 7 - published in separate document

Attachment 8

Proposal 8 - published in separate document

Attachment 9

Proposal 9 - published in separate document

Attachment 10

Current Ward Configuration - 5 Wards - published in separate document

Attachment 11

Proposed Ward Configuration - No Wards - published in separate document

Attachment 12

Proposed Ward Configuration - 2 Wards - published in separate document

Attachment 13

Proposed Ward Configuration -  3 Wards - published in separate document

Attachment 14

Proposed Ward Configuration -  4 Wards - published in separate document

Attachment 15

Proposed Ward Configuration -  - 5 Wards - published in separate document

 


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 48

Item:                   FIN087-19          Property Matter - 8A Johnstone Street (Johnston Street Reserve), Peakhurst - Proposed Easement to Drain Water From Adjoining Property 

Author:              Strategic Property Specialist

Directorate:      Business and Corporate Services

Matter Type:     Committee Reports

 

 

 

Recommendation:

(a)     That Council grant an Easement to Drain Water over Lot 14 in Deposited Plan (DP)23120, being part of Johnstone Street Reserve Peakhurst, as generally detailed in this report.

(b)     That the General Manager be authorised to execute the Section 88B Instrument or Transfer Granting Easement and all associated documentation to create the easement under Common Seal of the Council, if required.

(c)     That all costs associated with the granting of the easement be met by the applicant.

 

 

Executive Summary

1.   As a condition of Development Consent DA2018/0432, the owner of 5 Ogilvy Street, Peakhurst is required to obtain an Easement to Drain Water over the adjoining Council owned land described as Lot 14 in DP 23120, being part of the Johnstone Street Reserve, Peakhurst (the Reserve).

2.   The proposed easement is 1m wide by 10.55 m long and will permit a subsurface drainage connection to an existing drainage facility located within the Reserve.

3.   The purpose of this report is to seek approval to grant the proposed easement at market value over the Reserve.

Background

4.   Georges River Council is the registered proprietor of an open space/bushland recreation reserve legally described in part as Lot 14 in DP 23120 and forming part of the Johnstone Street Reserve, Peakhurst.  A location plan is annexed to this report as Attachment 1.

5.   In furtherance of a condition in Development Consent DA2018/0432, Council has received a request from the owner of 5 Ogilvy Street, Peakhurst for an easement to drain water from their property to the existing public drainage infrastructure located within the adjoining Reserve mentioned above.

6.   The proposed easement to drain water is proposed to be granted over a Council owned parcel of “community” classified land.  In accordance with community provisions of the Local Government Act 1993, Council is permitted to grant easements for drainage over community classified land in order to allow connection into existing public storm water drainage facilities located within public reserves.

7.   The proposed subsurface easement will encumber Council’s land by approximately 10.55m2 and will permit connection into the existing public drainage infrastructure within the Reserve.

 

 

Financial Implications

8.      In exchange for granting the proposed easement, the applicant will be required to pay market value consideration for encumbering Council’s land.  The market value determination is annexed to this report as confidential Attachment 2.

9.      In addition to the determined market value, the applicant has agreed to pay Council’s incurred valuation, legal and all associated easement survey, lodgement and registration costs as well as costs for the necessary infrastructure works and subsequent “make good” provisions.

Risk Implications

10.    No risks identified as a result of this report.

 

Community Engagement

11.    Community engagement is not required as a result of this report.

 

 

File Reference

19/1658

 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment 1

Location Plan  Proposed Easement  8 Johnstone Street, Peakhurst

Attachment 2

Valuation - Proposed Easement - 8 Johnstone Street Peakhurst (Confidential)

 


Georges River Council -         Finance and Governance Committee - Monday, 9 December 2019

FIN087-19              Property Matter - 8A Johnstone Street (Johnston Street Reserve), Peakhurst - Proposed Easement to Drain Water From Adjoining Property

[Appendix 1]          Location Plan  Proposed Easement  8 Johnstone Street, Peakhurst

 

 

Page 49

 

  


Georges River Council – Finance and Governance Committee -  Monday, 9 December 2019                                    Page 50

Confidential items (Closed Meeting)

Council's Code of Meeting Practice allows members of the public present to indicate whether they wish to make representations to the meeting, before it is closed to the public, as to whether that part of the meeting dealing with any or all of the matters listed should or should not be considered in closed session.

 

Recommendation

That in accordance with the provisions of Part 1 of Chapter 4 of the Local Government Act 1993, the following matters be considered in closed Meeting at which the press and public are excluded.

 

FIN032A-19       Property Matter - Carrington Road, Hurstville

(Report by Head of Strategic Property)

THAT in accordance with the provisions of Part 1 of Chapter 4 of the Local Government Act 1993, the matters dealt with in this report be considered in closed Council Meeting at which the press and public are excluded. In accordance with Section 10A(2) (c) it is considered the matter information that would, if disclosed, confer a commercial advantage on a person with whom the Council is conducting (or proposes to conduct) business.

THAT in accordance with Section 10D it is considered that if the matter were discussed in an open Council Meeting, it would on balance, be contrary to the public interest as it information that would, if disclosed, confer a commercial advantage on a person with whom the Council is conducting (or proposes to conduct) business.

 

That in accordance with the provisions of Section 11(2) of the Act, the reports and correspondence relating to these matters be withheld from the press and public.