Tweed GM confident council won’t have to merge
IT is unlikely that Tweed Shire Council will be forced to merge with a neighbouring council despite being found financially unfit for the future, says the Tweed's general manager Troy Green.
Mr Green says the independent assesment was based on old information that once updated would place the council on a much more solid footing with the State Government.
The Tweed was named among the 60% of NSW councils financially unfit for the future by the Pricing and Regulatory Tribunals (IPART) Assessment in a report released by the NSW Premier Mike Baird on Tuesday.
Neighbouring Byron Shire Council, which has long been considered to have serious financial shortfalls, was among those councils found to have future viability.
According to the report, in 2019-20 the Tweed will be below the benchmark for the operating performance ratio, at 4.9%, and the building and infrastructure asset renewal ratio will be below the benchmark at 52.2%.
The report highlighted the council forecast "a high and increasing infrastructure backlog" of 8.9% and a "below benchmark asset maintenance ratio" of 71.3% in 2019-20.
Mr Green said he was "not surprised" by IPART's findings.
He said the council had not been given enough time to calculate the region's assets and had submitted an over-estimated balance sheet into the assessment, based on figures up to six years old.
Mr Green said a new, external asset re-valuation was undertaken over the last two weeks and will be re-submitted.
"The government said we had to have the planning by the (June 30) - well that's great, but we didn't get our asset re-valuation by (October 30).
"They gave us six months and we have not had our assets valued for some time and we have $3b worth of assets.
"I could have ticked the boxes and made us look fit but I didn't. It's not doing anyone any favours unless you're being fair dinkum."
He said following a asset re-assessment, the councils figures are in better shape, and the region was not under threat of amalgamation with other councils deemed unfit for the future.
He said the 'unfit' label was not a fair assessment of the Tweed.
"The big councils, like ourselves, Sydney City, Parramatta, Blacktown, Liverpool, Wyong, Gosford, Campbelltown, all big road councils, all councils with huge assets, are all in the same situation.
"The city of Sydney is not a fit for the future, Blacktown, with 400,000 residents and bigger than Tasmania, is not fit for the future.
"When that new service station goes up at Chinderah, where (Melaleuca Station) is, we're building a roundabout going to cost $10m to build and that asset comes to council, so we've got a $10m asset on our books and I've got to depreciate it and I've got to put a provision in it to that asset in 50 years, so that roundabout will cost rate payers $200,000 a year.
"That's why Blacktown and Parramatta and Blacktown can't keep up either.
"It's the same as Sydney city - they're not going to replace the Harbour Bridge are they?"
He said a new external asset re-valuation was undertaken on Tweed's assets and will be re-submitted, which he believed would prove the region was "fit".