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What is Fit for the Future?
In September 2014 the state government announced a reform program requiring all NSW Councils (except in the state’s central west) to submit a proposal by June 30 2015 outlining how they will become ‘Fit for the Future’.
These reforms were developed in response to a Local Government Independent Review Panel, which developed a range of recommendations for reform.
The Panel was established following the Destination 2036 summit held in 2011, where council’s from throughout NSW gathered to discuss how to meet the challenges of the future.
Councils wanted to be strong sustainable and to continue to make a positive difference in their community, but there were various views as to how this could be achieved. It was agreed that change was needed, so the local government sector asked the State to appoint an independent expert to carry out a review.
In late October 2014, the Government released the benchmarks that Council’s must meet in order to demonstrate they are Fit for the Future. Council must assess its financial position against these benchmarks as part of the June 30 2015 submission and prove that we can be sustainable in the long term.
There's a lot of work involved in preparing our submission and it is expected to be a lengthy process, with investigations extending over many months. An important part of the process will be consultation with staff and the community.
What did the Independent Panel recommend for Wingecarribee Shire Council?
Wingecarribee Shire Council was recommended (along with 27 other larger rural and regional councils) for 'no change', i.e. no merger or amalgamation has been identified. Council's in this group are considered 'likely to be sustainable in their current form for several decades.'
What was the response of the NSW Government to the Independent Panel’s recommendation for the Wingecarribee?
The NSW Government supports (recommendation 52, pg 17) the Independent Panel’s recommendation for the Wingecarribee
However, under the Fit for the Future process, Council will have to demonstrate that it can remain sustainable over the long term.
The NSW Government will be monitoring Council’s future performance against a
number of Fit for the Future benchmarks
What was Council’s response to the Independent Panel’s recommendation for the Wingecarribee?
Council has accepted the Independent Panel’s recommendation.
The Panel’s recommendation will provide the starting point for our Fit for the Future submission.
Wingecarribee councillors are unanimous in their opposition to an amalgamation with any neighbouring councils.
What benchmarks does Council need to meet to be Fit for the Future?
The current position of every council in NSW has been assessed against seven Fit for the Future benchmarks.
The benchmarks measure a council’s performance across three broad categories:
For each category there are a number of financial benchmarks which measure operating performance and revenue, debt, the cost of renewing and maintaining assets and operating costs over time.
Council will also need to show it has the scale and capacity consistent with the recommendations of the Independent Panel.
What is Council’s current position against the Fit for the Future Benchmarks?
Council has been assessed as meeting two of the seven Fit for the
Future benchmarks. The majority of Councils across NSW do not currently meet
all of the Fit for the Future benchmarks
What does Council need to do to be Fit for the Future?
Council is required to lodge its Fit for the Future Proposal by 30 June 2015.
Within its proposal, Council must identify the strategies it will be pursuing to improve its performance against the Fit for the Future benchmarks
There is no specific deadline by which Council must achieve these benchmarks, however the proposal has to demonstrate that Council will improve its performance trending toward the benchmarks over time.
Council’s proposal will be assessed by an Expert Panel which will be established by the NSW Government
If the Expert Panel accepts Council’s proposal, Council can then proceed to implement its Fit for the Future Improvement Action Plan.
What if Council is not Fit for the Future?
The final Report of the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel, October 2013 stated that Council appears sustainable in our current form for several decades.
Failure to maintain Council’s sustainability and fitness for the future is not in the best interests of the community. Should this occur Council’s future may be taken out of our own hands.