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GM speaks on Fit for the Future

Clarence Valley Council’s general manager, Scott Greensill, in response the NSW Government’s releasing of the Fit for the Future report said the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s finding [that] the Clarence Valley Council is not “fit for the future” showed the council had long-term financial and asset problems that would require long-term solutions. Mr Greensill said the council had been saying for some time action was needed to improve its long-term financial outlook. “The IPART report simply reinforces that need,” he said. “The report demonstrates we have to take action to improve our finances and rationalise our assets and provides a stark reminder that doing nothing to improve our position is not an option. “We have to take action.” Mr Greensill said the council currently met only two of the NSW Government’s seven Fit for the Future benchmarks. “To be regarded as fit for the future the Government wants councils to meet those benchmarks by 2019-20.” “In our submission to IPART we said we would meet those benchmarks by 2024-25 and the independent audit report that was handed to council last night showed we are heading in the right direction, but there will still need to be some big decisions for us to get there. “Our aim is to reach these benchmarks over the long term because to do so quickly would be too drastic and unpalatable for our ratepayers. “The future doesn’t stop at the Government’s deadline in 2019-20, so we are aiming to meet those benchmarks in 2024-25 to ease the impact on our community.” Mr Greensill said there was nothing in the IPART report that suggested the Clarence Valley Council should be involved in merger discussions with its neighbours, but that did not mean council could continue to spend more than it receives. IPART’s report said it did not identify evidence for a better alternative to the council’s proposal to stand alone. “However, if council doesn’t continue with its Fit for the Future strategies I’m sure there will be some form of intervention,” he said. He said it was interesting that each of the neighbouring councils who met the Fit for the Future benchmarks had received special rate variations approved in the past. “This council has never applied for an SRV, but there is a need. We must address our revenue,” he said.