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Council falls behind with its improvement strategies

Geoff Helisma|

At the February 25 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, staff advised councillors that CVC “still has to find improvement strategies to the value of $3,964,072 by the end of 2020/21” to meet its Fit for the Future commitments.

The council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, said solving this problem “may require some difficult decisions to be made during the next 18 months”.

An improvement schedule, adopted in 2016, outlined operational expenditure savings to be achieved over four years, from 2017/18 to 2020/21

In the first year, 2017/18, CVC fell $379,343 short of that year’s target, $3,794,870.

In 2018/19, the savings target was $2,505,131; however, actual savings amounted to $1,218,795 – a shortfall of $1,286,336.

This financial year’s target is $2,669,591.

Staff put it this way in the report tabled at the CVC meeting: “Significant progress has been made in identifying, investigating and recording the financial savings that have resulted from various improvement strategies during 2019/20.

“To date, improvement strategies to the value of $446,373 have been recognised in [the] current year.

“These are the direct result of intended action to reduce costs.

“…there is still $2.2 million of improvement strategies to be realised in the 2019/20 financial year.”

The Independent asked general manager Ashley Lindsay in an email: CVC is bound to find $3,964,072 in improvement strategies by the end of 2020/21 – notwithstanding what is stated in the current business paper, how will CVC find these savings so as to meet its Fit for the Future commitments?

Mr Lindsay responded in an email: “The attachment to this report (Item 6c.20.019) identifies 30 different strategies which are currently being investigated by staff.

“During the 6 months to December 2019, we have identified $446,000 in savings, which reduces our target to $3.5million.

“This is still a significant amount to find by June 2021, which may require some difficult decisions to be made during the next 18 months.”

The council “is required to meet the objectives of its Fit for the Future submission, which details the ways in which financial sustainability will be achieved”, the report to council stated.

The next progress update is due in June 2020.

Councillors received the report unanimously and did not discuss or debate the issue at the February meeting.