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Councillors call for savings reports

Geoff Helisma


Six councillors have supported Cr Karen Toms efforts to discover savings that have not yet been tabled, as CVC struggles to meet its savings target – councillors Arthur Lysaught and Jason Kingsley opposed her motion.

The council is $2,254,082 short of meeting its Fit for the future savings commitment by the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

The savings were part of CVC’s ‘deal’ with ratepayers, which included an eight (8) per cent special rate variation (including the rate peg) for three years (2018/19 to 2020/21), resulting in a permanent annual increase of 25.97 per cent from 2021/22 onwards.

Overall, the council estimated it would be better off by $10.3 million (above the rate peg) at the end of 2020/21, and has stated that the extra $51.2 million collected above the rate peg over a 10-year period must be spent on roads’ maintenance and renewal; flood mitigation renewal; and renewal of sports facilities, open spaces, buildings and swimming pools.

Ultimately, Cr Toms gained support at the October 27 CVC meeting, to “receive at or before the December 2020 meeting”, a report that reconciles “the efficiency savings and improvement opportunities from the Uniqco Review of Light and Heavy Plant Fleet”; a report that estimates “efficiency savings from the rationalisation of Council’s five [5] depots, with estimated minimum annual savings from 2020/21”, and, “any other efficiency savings that may be available”.

A report to the February 2016 meeting, regarding the new South Grafton depot, outlined the savings that would result in “an initial efficiency dividend of $1,035,762 [that] will occur in the first year of operation, followed by $822,307 in the second year and $1,088,974 every year after that”.

Further, the “identified cost savings are considered to be the minimum achievable”, the report stated, and “further improvements could be realised through improved operational practices”.

Council staff started moving into the new deport in March 2018.

At the October 27 meeting, Cr Toms pointed out that the overall planned “savings have not been realised”.

“We have seven months left to complete [them] … we asked the community to pay a special rate variation and our deal with them was to come up with savings, but they’re not cutting the mustard at moment,” she said.