Extraordinary Council Meeting

 

  BUSINESS PAPER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 13 April 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Administrative Centre 30 Frances Street Randwick 2031

Telephone: 02 9399 0999 or

1300 722 542 (for Sydney metropolitan area)

Fax:02 9319 1510

general.manager@randwick.nsw.gov.au

www.randwick.nsw.gov.au


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ordinary Council

13 April 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extraordinary Council Meeting

 

 

Notice is hereby given that an Extraordinary Council Meeting of the Council of the City of Randwick will be held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, 90 Avoca Street, Randwick, on Tuesday, 13 April 2010 at at the conclusion of the Committee Meetings.

 

 

Prayer and Acknowledgement of the local indigenous people

Prayer

Almighty God,

We humbly beseech you to bestow your blessings upon this Council and to direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of your glory and the true welfare of the people of Randwick and Australia.

Amen”

 

Acknowledgement of the local indigenous people

I would like to acknowledge that we are here today on the land of the Bidjigal people of the Dharwahal Nation.  The Bidjigal people are the traditional owners and custodians of this land and form part of the wider aboriginal nations of the Sydney area.  On behalf of Randwick City Council I would also like to acknowledge and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present.”

 

Apologies/Granting of Leave of Absences 

Declarations of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

Address of Council by Members of the Public

Mayoral Minutes

Nil 

 

General Manager's Report

GM7/10     Buildings for our Community Program

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………….

Ray Brownlee

General Manager

 


Ordinary Council

13 April 2010

 

 

 

General Manager's Report No. GM7/10

 

 

Subject:                  Buildings for our Community Program

Folder No:                   F2010/00044

Author:                   Ray Brownlee, General Manager     

 

Introduction

 

At the Ordinary Council meeting on 20 October 2009 the proposed Building program 2010-2017 was outlined and it was resolved that Council supported in principle a levy to fund a building program for community facilities subject to the further discussion and the subsequent adoption of the final program by Council in December. It was also resolved that the final percentage increase would be decided by the full Council after public consultation of the December resolution and exhibition of the detailed program.

 

Following the finalisation of the proposed building program at the November Councillors’ workshop it was resolved at the Ordinary Council meeting on 8 December 2009 that the prioiritised building program be accepted, that community consultation be undertaken and a report on this consultation be brought back to Council prior to submission of the application to the Division of Local Government (DLG). The proposal was based on a 7% special variation in year 1 of the program in accordance with s508(2) of the Local Government Act 1993.

 

However on 18 December 2009 the DLG issued Circular 09-42 and new guidelines regarding the submission of special variations to rates income. The guidelines changed the methodology required for the submission of special variation applications, the level of community consultation required and the building program funding model. As the application now had to be submitted under section 508A it was for a 2.71% compounding increase over three years to fund a seven year building program. This information was provided to the Council in a report to the Ordinary Council meeting on 23 February 2010

 

The consultation that ran from late January 2010 to 26 March 2010 sought to address in particular the resolutions of Council in relation to:

 

·        Undertaking a survey on the necessity and support for the building program and the funding options

·        Option of subsidising pensioners

·        Provision of full information on impact on residents

 

This report as requested in the Council resolution provides an overview of the consultation and engagement strategy used and a summary of the outcomes of the community consultation.

 

Issues

 

Background

A key outcome in our 20 year Randwick City Plan is a liveable city and over the past six years Randwick has responded to the community’s expectation by focusing on roads, footpaths, parks, cleanliness of beaches and drainage with positive outcomes and clear benefits to the community including:

 

·        Better maintenance of essential infrastructure

·        Increased level of community satisfaction with Council’s management of key infrastructure services

·        A substantial overall and recurrent increase in capital expenditure on infrastructure

Randwick Council has a substantial portfolio of buildings through which it delivers services, provides facilities and meets the recreational and functional needs for our community. The maintenance of these buildings is both planned and reactive with any major rehabilitation work undertaken on a case by case basis. In 2009-10 eleven percent of the maintenance budget was allocated to buildings but only two percent of the capital expenditure.

Visual inspections have shown that some of the buildings are at the end of their life and are no longer serviceable.  Without substantial renewal work a number will require demolition within the next 10 years.  The buildings on the coast including the surf clubs have been subjected to the harsh environment and all show signs of concrete cancer and weathering. 

As part of the asset management process Council documented all building assets, their type and use, construction materials, age and condition.  This information combined with replacement cost has enabled the Council to analyse the financial requirements for renewal and maintenance. It was found that based on the number of buildings and their value, significant funds are required for renewal and maintenance.

While existing asset management plans demonstrate that Randwick’s road pavements, footpaths, storm water drainage and open space are now at the desired condition level, our buildings require substantial additional funding to meet the renewal and maintenance requirements.

Randwick City Council has prepared a seven year building capital, upgrade and replacement program which is part of a long-term strategy to provide the community with improved and additional facilities that contribute to public amenity and the well being of our residents and visitors. The program will provide for the construction of new buildings and amenities which have been identified in recent years as needed, as well as upgrades of existing buildings thus ensuring their sustainability.

The proposed building program will:

 

·        Better fulfil Council’s key role under the Local government Act 1993 to manage the assets for which is responsible.

·        Address the poor condition of many of the buildings

·        Meet identified needs for improved and new community facilities as detailed in the adopted Community Facilities Plan and various Plans of Management

·        Improve Randwick’s ‘social capital’

The total cost of this proposed program, based on undertaking the work over the next seven years, is $34,921,000 with $4,675,000 available from other sources such as grants, restricted reserves and section 94 funds. Council requires an additional $30,246,000 to undertake these works.

Overview of Consultation and Engagement Strategy

Randwick City Council set out to engage the Randwick community on the proposed Buildings for our Community program and the funding options by implementing a specially designed consultation and communication strategy. The strategy was designed to meet the consultation level of “collaboration” as detailed in the DLG guidelines[1].

 

The strategy was transparent and well publicised. It sought to engage the wider local community as well as existing community and stakeholder groups.  It made available accurate information and provided the opportunity for intensive in depth discussion of the issues and options. It used a variety of different media to communicate information on the proposal and gave the whole community the choice of how they could participate and give feedback to the Council.

 

The consultation and engagement strategy:

 

acknowledged the diversity of our community by recognising that different people preferred to engage and give feedback in different ways

enabled the community to provide input to the development of more effective communication and feedback processes

was based on the Randwick City Council’s Community Consultation Principles and Consultation Planning Guide

focused on ensuring that the ‘silent majority’ had access to the information and were directly encouraged to provide feedback

 

Information on the proposal was provided through:

 

Council’s website

 

information at Council’s customer service centre, libraries and aquatic centre

Mayor’s column, advertising and media coverage

presentations to community and stakeholder groups

focus groups

a deliberative engagement workshop

 

an information package distribution to all residents

newsletter distributed to all households in March

online discussion website

street stall

 

 

 

The information given to the community outlined:

 

why the building program is required

proposed works including costs

range of funding options

cost of the special variation showing the cumulative impact

financial impact of the preferred option –a range of examples based on different land values showed the varying impacts of the accumulated increase

the compounding impact of the total increase shown in several tables

 

Residents could engage in discussion of the issues and give feedback through:

 

email directly from Council’s website

two externally facilitated focus groups

an externally facilitated deliberative engagement workshop

street stall

a survey distributed in hardcopy to all residents and available online

online web based discussion forum website

letters and submissions

meetings of different community and stakeholder groups, such as precinct committees, sporting groups, surf clubs and chambers of commerce

face to face discussion with Council staff

A summary of the key consultation activities are outlined in Figure 1 and this includes a brief description of the technique and when and where it was used. A copy of all information provided during the consultation is in Attachment 1 and 2

Randwick Council acknowledges that new technologies are a useful supplement but cannot substitute for representative community consultation.   In the consultation for the Buildings for our Community they played an important role in reaching some sectors of the community in an accessible, cost effective and user friendly way. Extensive use was made of Council’s website and the Bang-the-table online discussion site streetcorner.com also provided further opportunities for community comments and discussion.

 

Council recognised however, that not every household has internet access, and that not all members of the public feel comfortable interacting via a computer, so many other opportunities for involvement were also provided.

 

Figure 1: Key elements of consultation and engagement strategy

 

Consultative Strategy

Features

Focus groups

First consultation activity

 

Participants were randomly selected by an external research company to reflect the key population demographics of the City

 

Run by independent facilitator

 

Identified topics that required more research, more information or more preparation.

 

The focus groups were conducted over two weeknight evenings, 28 January and 4 February 2010, and lasted for 1.5 hours each. There was full attendance at both groups - 10 participants each.

 

The feedback from the focus groups resulted in changes to the consultation strategy and consultation activities, as well changes to the information package, the website information and survey contents

 

Deliberative Engagement Workshop

Participants were randomly selected by an external research company to reflect the key population demographics of the City

 

Run by independent research company using an internationally recognised consultation methodology.

 

Forty-seven people attended the deliberative engagement workshop at Randwick Town Hall on Saturday 13 February 2010 from 9.30am-12.30pm

 

Participants were provided with full information in the workshop. This included a summary of the ‘Buildings for our Community’ program, the options for funding and the expected building levy rate. They had a chance to discuss the information on tables; there was a Q&A session to clarify issues, an opportunity to feedback at various points in the forum. Small and large group discussion encouraged collective deliberation problem solving that led to a series of votes.

 

 

Information package

The information package was distributed to all 55,000 households in the City of Randwick. The city wide distribution that commenced on 1 March 2010 was the result of a recommendation by the focus groups.

 

The package included a letter from the Mayor; an information leaflet that clearly explained the building program, the proposed levy and how to get more detailed information; a survey form; and a reply paid envelope for returning the survey. 

 

The package was available in all Council facilities such as customer service centre, libraries and the aquatic centre

 

The package was sent to all precincts, chambers of commerce, sporting groups and other stakeholders

 

It was on the website and Bang the Table site.

 

Brochure and survey emailed, on request, to sporting groups and other residents

 

Survey

Distributed to all households - commencing 1 March 2010

Online survey was accessible on Council’s website and through Bang the Table site

Available in all Council facilities such as customer service centre, libraries and aquatic centre

 

Mayor’s Column

 

The building program was discussed in the Mayor’s column on 16 and 23 February. This outlined the proposal and encouraged people to provide feedback. It listed the ways that residents could contribute. A letter from the Mayor in support of the transparency of Randwick’s consultation was published in SMH on 25 March 2010.

 

Advertising in local media

An advertisement outlining the proposal and providing information on how residents could find out more and have their say was run in the Southern Courier on 23 February, 9 March and 16 March.

 

Council’s newsletter

55,000 copies of Council’s newsletter was distributed to every household in March. This included a half page of information about the proposed program and outlined how residents could get more information and have their say.

 

Council’s website

The Council website had six pages devoted to this community consultation, and included a full explanation of the 65 proposed projects, a FAQ sheet will full information on the program, the proposed funding options, the impact of the rates levy, links to the online survey, facility for direct email submissions

 

Bang the Table

 

Through a Bang the Table site, residents had the opportunity to discuss the proposed levy and building program online with other residents. There were four major discussion streams.

 

Council responded to further requests for information by posting additional documents to the site.

 

Community groups and stakeholder groups

The various community and stakeholder groups generally represent  a particular set of interests  or a community of interest.

 

Meetings attended include:

 

17 Feb: Sports Committee

17 Feb.: Precinct Coordination Committee

25 Feb.: Aboriginal Advisory group

8 March: Child care centre operators

10 March: Randwick precinct committee (requested)

17 March: Combined Chambers

15 March: Coogee precinct (requested)

19 March: Tourism Committee

 

Individual meetings were held with each surf club and representatives from rugby league, AFL, soccer and rugby union sporting groups.

 

Other - media

2 articles in the local paper – The Southern Courier

2 articles and letters to the editor in the Sydney Morning Herald

Extensive interview on ABC 702 with the Council’s General Manager, including talkback callers

In depth discussion with 4 senior journalists on ABC 702 radio

Streetcorner.com a independently run web discussion and news site

 

Other

Street stall in Maroubra Mall

 

 

Focus of feedback

The feedback sought in the survey and consultation included all the issues identified by the Council in its resolutions.

 

The survey sought responses on the following:

 

·      Community centres. Whether or not any or all should be included in the program with opportunity to nominate which to exclude.

·      Building projects were grouped into eleven major areas and feedback sought along a continuum from essential to not needed

·      Preference for one of three options for funding and the  program implementation included:

 

Proceed with whole program and fund by......with choice of five funding options

Proceed with reduced/modified program and fund by…..five options

Not to proceed

 

·      With the option of the reduced program residents could nominate which projects to remove

·      Willingness to pay a higher levy of 0.3% to support pensioners

 

The online discussion website sought responses under the following headings:

 

·      What are your thoughts on the importance of new and renovated community buildings?

·      What do you think is the best way for the council to build or renovate community buildings and how should they be funded?

·      How important is that we build three new community centres and new facilities as part of the Buildings for our community program?

·      Are you willing to subsidise pensioners?

·      Tell us more – participate in our on-line survey

 


Transparency of Information

Council gave residents complete and accurate information about the Buildings for our Community program.

 

“They've got a fantastic amount of information on the website and I think that there's a huge amount of interest, community interest in seeing the detail of some of these things.”[2]

 

While the information pack sent to every resident’s letterbox in Randwick City provided a summary and some details of the building projects it also provided clear directions on how to find more detailed information on each of the 65 projects and on how people could have their say. A copy of the survey with a reply paid post envelope was included in every information pack.

Information about the consultations was advertised in the local newspapers, the Mayor's column and on Council’s website.

Council representatives met with and provided more detailed information on the program to community and stakeholder groups including precinct committees, sporting clubs, child care groups, Council advisory committees and the local Indigenous community.

 

The DLG guidelines[3] state:

 

It is essential, when engaging the community on a possible section 508A variation that the council is transparent in identifying the impact of the rate increase on ratepayers.

All written material and presentations made it very clear that the increase was cumulative and becomes an ongoing part of the Council’s income.

“..would entail a 2.71% increase in your rates each year for the next three years, The accumulated increase would remain in your rates thereafter.”[4]

“To fund this we are proposing to apply to the State Government for approval for a special cumulative levy on rates over the next three years.”[5]

“..a special levy – a 2.71per cent increase in your rates each year for the next three years only. The accumulated increase remains in your rates thereafter. It will continue to fund the agreed building program until it is completed…..will be in addition to a nominated annual rate peg increase for the next three years[6] [7]

“One of the things they've got (..on the website) is a breakdown of how much the rate increase will impact on people's rates. So the nominal block, a $700,000 block rated for rate purposes in Randwick, $700,000, the levy would affect, I think - it would be over three years, you'd pay something like $230, or $240 - about $70 a year in the first year. It's a compounding problem, which is why you get to the $230.”[8]

“At the combined precincts meeting the General Manager of Randwick City Council did a great presentation about the Buildings for Our Community special levy proposal which is now out for public consultation. I believe that the fact that Randwick City Council do not generate revenue from parking meters like many others that they have come up with the best options to minimize any possibility of massive rate rises. We have one of the lowest rates out of several coastal councils.


The good thing is whatever money is left at the end it will go back into the Council budget and then we the people can push through precincts, Councillors etc to ensure that Council use the money to protect our future and future assets such as buildings parks, facilities etc without introducing another levy.”[9]

 

The Long Term Financial Plan[10], adopted by Council on 23 February 2010 and supported by the asset management plans, outlines how Council will allocate the additional revenue from year 8 (2017-18) to year 20 (2029-30).

 

Any request for additional information on the Bang the Table site was managed by putting additional documents and plans in the site library.

 

This information provided was supported by a number of graphs detailing the financial impact of the rate increase.[11] [12]

 

All information provided during the consultation is included in Attachment 1.

 

Results of Community Consultation

The following is a summary of the key findings of the community consultations, after reviewing the survey results, the outcomes of the focus groups and the deliberative engagement workshop, comments made on the Bang the Table website, the submissions to Council and the workshops with stakeholder groups.

 

·      Over eighty-seven per cent of those engaged in the consultation wanted Council to proceed with either a full or modified building program, with a significant percentage opting for a full building program

·      A building levy was the preferred way of funding a full or modified program

·      There was a high level of support for upgrades and renovations of existing buildings

·      The support for the construction of new buildings was not as high as upgrades and renovations of existing buildings

·      Exemptions from the levy for pensioners which would then be subsidised by other rate payers did not receive majority support

 

A summary of the results of each of the major consultation activities follows with full reports provided in the attachments.

1.      Survey

 

1.1    Methodology

A quantitative survey was developed by a professional researcher and the questions were tested in qualitative focus groups moderated by an independent qualitative researcher.

 

The survey could be completed on paper and returned to council by the supplied reply paid envelope or by going onto Council’s website and completing it online. Links were also provided from the Bang the Table discussion forum.

 

Council used SPSS, an industry standard statistical analysis package to analyse and report on the survey data.  External contractors entered the data from the printed survey responses into the statistical software.  The online and printed surveys were analysed together by the statistical software.  Council will further validate the survey process by undertaking an internal audit.

 

A total of 3105 surveys were completed. A sample of 3105 has a margin of error of 1.7 per cent at the industry standard 95 per cent confidence level. This means that the results will be an accurate reflection of the community view within plus or minus 1.7 per cent.

 

This is a very small sampling error and demonstrates the reliability of the results.  As a comparison when Nielsen market research[13] conducts a poll around voting intentions they ask a representative sample, typically 1400 people of the population (nationally 13.5 million voters) for their opinions. The margin of error for a sample of 1400 people is plus or minus 2.6 per cent for a confidence level of 95 per cent. News poll uses a smaller sample of 1150 and has a margin of error of 3 per cent.

 

 

A number of demographic questions were asked to determine that the respondent demographics closely reflected the community. While the full report provides details on a number of factors the following Figure 2 shows the close correlation between the population of residents in each suburb according to ABS 2006 census data[14] and the percentage of respondents from each suburb. This data shows that there was a good representation of the respondents in relation to the City’s population spread.

 


Figure 2: Survey validation – Survey responses correspond to our suburbs[15]

 

 

1.2    Survey - Key findings

In total, 54% of respondents wanted Council to proceed with the full Buildings for our Community program, compared with 34% who wanted a partial or modified program and 12% who did not want the program to proceed at all.

 

Figure 3: Support for Buildings for our Community program

 

 

Overall 88 per cent want Council to proceed with a full or modified program. This is a significant high level of support. If the 1.7 per cent margin of error is considered it means that between 86.3 per cent and 89.7 per cent of the Randwick community want Council to proceed with the full or modified building program.

 

Of those who wanted the full program to proceed, 62% were prepared to pay the levy; 3% thought that Council should go into debt to pay for the program; 12% thought the funds should be raised through speculative and entrepreneurial activity; 15% thought it should be paid for through increased user fees and charges; and 9% thought council should cut funding to other programs and services to pay for it.

 

Regardless of whether respondents chose the full or modified building program, 47% of respondents who wanted the program to go ahead in some form chose to pay a special levy.

 

Figure 4: Funding options for full and modified Buildings for our Community program

 

 

As can be seen in Figure 4, of all the possible funding options there is a much higher level of support for the special levy than any other option with 47% of all respondents who wanted a full or modified building program preferring the levy.

 

The next preferred option is increased user charges. The comments and discussion at meetings and workshops indicated that when the community was talking about increased user charges they were in most cases talking about the introduction of parking meters at beaches with exemptions for residents. They strongly felt that visitors should contribute to the cost of maintaining the regional facilities.

 

“”Many participants at the deliberative forum brought up the issue of introducing parking meters to the area, with residents being exempted. … However, it was clearly stated by the General Manager that this wouldn’t be an option for raising funding for the building program.”[16]

 

The respondents were asked to rate the importance of each project component in the Buildings for our community program and Figure 5 shows whether a component was viewed as essential or not necessary or whether the respondents had no strong feelings about it (shown as neutral).  

 

Generally support was high for the upgrade and renovation projects and less high for the construction of new buildings.

 


Figure 5: Importance of projects to community.

 

 

When questioned as to what buildings works should be left out or reduced in a modified program the most commonly identified works were the community centres. Figure 5 above shows that 36 per cent of the respondents thought that new community centres were not important.

       

In terms of the community centres as can be seen in Figure 6 opinion was evenly distributed with approximately one third wanting all four centres constructed, one third only wanting some of the new centres constructed and the final third not wanting any community centres funded from the program.

 

Figure 6: Preference for Community Centres

 

 

Of the 1031 respondents who wanted the reduced community centres program their preference for the construction of new centres is as follows:

 

·      Maroubra Beach centre                    51.50%

·      Youth facilities                                34.82%

·      Kensington centre                           33.75%

·      Coogee community centre         31.13%

 

The survey asked whether respondents would be willing to pay a higher levy (0.3 per cent) to exempt pensioners from paying the building levy and the results of this question are shown in Figure 7 where it can be seen that only 40.8 per cent support a subsidy for pensioners.

 

Figure 7: Exemptions for pensioners through subsidising by other ratepayers

 

 

While the commentary on this issue expressed some understanding of the pensioners’ situation there was the feeling that pensioners generally owned their own homes and that families with mortgages and the expenses of bringing up children faced more pressures.

 

Currently there are 5,708 ratepayers (5,143 Centrelink and 565 Department of Veteran Affairs) who currently receive a pensioner rebate on their rates. 97 per cent of all pensioners’ rates accounts are paid up to date and this reflects the pattern for all ratepayers. There are already some pensioners taking the option of accruing rates and charges against their estate. Council has some existing policies to assist pensioners in paying their rates and will make sure that pensioners are aware of their options.

 

The full report on the survey including a copy of the survey is provided in Attachment 3. The full report will be placed on Council’s website.

 

2.      Deliberative engagement workshop

Forty-seven people attended the deliberative forum at Randwick Town Hall on Saturday 13 February 2010 from 9.30am-12.30pm. Participants were selected randomly by Woolcott Research from the White Pages to reflect the demographics of the local community.

 

Participants were presented with information throughout the morning. This included a summary of the ‘Buildings for our Community’ program, the options for funding and the expected building levy rate. They had a chance to discuss the information on tables, there was a Q&A session to clarify issues, an opportunity to provide feedback at various points in the forum and at the end they were asked to vote.

 

Most participants at the deliberative forum were in favour of Council instigating a ‘Buildings for our Community’ program:

 

·      38% of the participants voted for doing the full program

·      49% of participants voted for a reduced/modified program.

·      9% of participants did not want the seven-year building program.

·      4% didn’t answer.

 

Figure 8: Support for Buildings for our Community program

 

 

Overall 87 per cent want Council to proceed with the full or modified program. This high level of support reflects that shown in the survey results and reinforces the reliability of the result.

 

From the information given, more importance was placed on renovating current buildings rather than building new ones. The priorities for the building program were seen to be:

·      Fixing the concrete cancer problems in buildings such as the surf clubs.

·      Upgrading the buildings for childcare and pre-school education.

·      Improving fitness and sporting facilities and upgrading Heffron Park indoor sports centre and gymnastics facility.

·      Upgrading and renewing amenities blocks, particularly at the beaches.

 

Participants felt that least priority should be given to:

·      Restoring the Heritage listed Town Hall.

·      Constructing the three new community centres

·      Constructing youth facilities in the La Perouse/Chifley area

 

In terms of the options for funding either the full or modified building program 76 per cent of the participants at the forum were in favour of some level of building levy. Increasing fees and charges, the second highest option, was focused on parking revenue with considerable discussion and support for the introduction of parking meters at the beaches with residents being exempted.  It was clearly stated by the General Manager that parking meters were not an option.

 


Figure 9: Funding options for full or modified Buildings for our Community program

 

 

The participants in favour of the full 2.71 per cent building levy to fund the whole program felt that it was transparent, as it was obvious what it was going to fund and that it also wasn’t much to pay.[17]

 

“It equates to a couple of coffees or a couple of beers.”

“I’d rather this than paying parking fines.”

 

A copy of the Woolcott research report which covers both the focus groups and the deliberative engagement forum is provided in Attachment 4.

 

3.      Council website

There were 1,018 unique visits to the site with the nearly 20% (200) looking at the proposed program of works and 193 seeking to provide feedback through the online survey.  A summary of the Council website usage is at attachment 5.

4.      Online discussion website

The Bang the Table site provided opportunities for discussion under the following headings:

 

·      importance of new and renovated community buildings

·      funding preferences

·      new community centres

·      willingness to subsidise pensioners

 

A summary of the online discussion activity is provided as Attachment 6 however the following should be noted:

·           The site is not limited to residents of Randwick City and while most of the visitors did not identify locations, of the small number who did (19) only 42% were from Randwick City.

·           There were 752 unique visitors to the site and of these 28 (4%) left comments which is a very small percentage of total site visitors. The number leaving comments is also very small when compared with the feedback obtained through the survey process.

·           270 documents were downloaded by visitors to the site showing a strong interest in finding out more information

·           The peaks in activity followed each of the four mentions of the building program and levy in the local paper illustrating further the effectiveness of the strategy in reaching the community and stimulating interest

5.      General feedback

 

A number of individual submissions were made on the proposed program and levy along with a range of submissions, feedback and/or resolutions from stakeholder and community groups. While all comments have been considered Council has not provided individual responses to each submission.

 

On both websites the greatest interest was in the actual program of works and giving feedback.

 

The feedback and survey results show less support for the construction of new community centres and in particular for the construction of a new community centre at Coogee.

 

“The Coogee Precinct does not support the building of a new Community Centre in Neptune Street and requests that funds be provided to do some basic renovations in order to facilitate shared use of the centrally located Senior Citizens Hall by Council staff and/or the police alongside the regular seniors activities, Precinct activities, preschool, play groups and similar community non -alcohol related activities.”[18]

 

The feedback also confirms the importance of maximising the use of existing community centres and the recent appointment of an officer with responsibility for managing community centres is a significant step towards this. Council will also explore the option of access to buildings owned by other organisations for use by members of the community as has been suggested during the consultation.

 

There were some suggestions that Council could sell surplus community facilities but most council owned properties are either built on crown land or council owned land that is classified as community land. Community land has to go through a comprehensive planning process prior to reclassification.

 

Strong support for the building program was received from the sporting groups who represent in particular the many children and youth who participate in sport throughout the City and who will benefit from the improved amenities in the parks and sporting fields.

 

There was some concern expressed that Council should have been maintaining these buildings in past. However the works proposed are not general maintenance and there is an ongoing maintenance program funded from the annual budget. In 2009-10 eleven per cent ($1.7m.) of Council’s $16.1 million maintenance budget was allocated to buildings. This is not enough to fund the major renovations needed due to age, deterioration and problems such as concrete cancer. Renovations of many of these buildings will make them more sustainable with lower future maintenance and operating costs.

 

While there was feedback suggesting that surf clubs should be self funding as in Queensland this concept would not be supported as the self funding is a result of income from the operation of restaurants, bars, and gaming facilities in their club houses.

 

There were a twenty five submissions received in relation to the construction of a new toilet block in Baker Park Coogee. This is park is well used by children from the Coogee Public School as well as other  community members who use this park's playground, dog-walking and sports facilities. There are no toilets attached to the tennis courts.

 

Relationship to City Plan

 

The relationship with the City Plan is as follows:

 

Outcome 1:               Leadership in sustainability.

Direction 1a:             Council has a long-term vision based on sustainability.

Outcome 3:               An informed and engaged community.

Direction 3c:             A community involved in shaping and enhancing our City.

Outcome 6:                      A liveable city.

Direction 6a:             Our public assets are planned, managed and funded to meet the community expectations and defined levels of service.

 

Financial impact statement

 

As a result of the community consultation  the special variation to rates will be reduced from 2.71% to 2.69% with a modified the Buildings for our Community program.

 

The proposed s508A special variation will raise $9.19 million for the building program over the next 3 financial years. A further $20.7 million will be raised from 2013-14 to 2016-17 to complete the proposed building program.

 

The following two tables show the impact of the variations in rates for ratepayers.

Figure 10 shows the cumulated increase for a range of land values over the three year period broken down into the annual rate peg increases and the 2.69% special variation for the building program.


Figure 10:  Cumulative Increase Over Three Years

Cumulative increase over 3 years

Land Value

Nominal Rate Pegging

Building Program

Combined
Total

318,000
(Minimum Rate)

$106.01

$92.01

$198.02

500,000

$168.93

$146.62

$315.55

700,000

$236.51

$205.27

$441.78

900,000

$304.08

$263.92

$568.00

1,100,000

$371.66

$322.57

$694.23

1,500,000

$506.80

$439.87

$946.67

 

Figure 11 shows the actual annual rates amounts (excluding other charges) for the next three years from June 2010 -13, including the nominated rate peg and the 2.69% special variation, as applied to sample land values.

Figure11:  Annual Rates 2009-2013

 

Annual Rates 2009 - 2013

Land Value

Current

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Change over
3 years

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

 

 

 

 

318,000
(Minimum Rate)

$549.50

$578.57

$614.67

$653.27

$103.77

500,000

$875.70

$922.02

$979.56

$1,041.08

$165.38

700,000

$1,225.98

$1,290.83

$1,371.38

$1,457.51

$231.53

900,000

$1,576.26

$1,659.64

$1,763.21

$1,873.94

$297.68

1,100,000

$1,926.54

$2,028.45

$2,155.03

$2,290.37

$363.83

1,500,000

$2,627.10

$2,766.07

$2,938.68

$3,123.23

$496.13

 

Conclusion

 

The proposed building program has been the subject of discussion at four Council meetings, three Councillor briefings and at the Councillors’ workshop in November 2009. There has been substantial media coverage since it was first raised in October 2009.

 

It was discussed at:

 

·      Ordinary Council meeting 20 October 2009 – GM 51/09

·      Ordinary Council meeting 24 November 2009 - NR 7/09

·      Ordinary Council meeting 8 December 2009 - GM61/09

·      Ordinary Council meeting 23 February 2010 -  GM02/10

 

An extensive community consultation was undertaken commencing January 2010 and concluding on 26 March 2010. Randwick used both qualitative (deliberative engagement workshop) and quantitative (survey) means to elicit feedback from the community on the proposed program and levy.

 

The consultation met the “collaboration level” as it used multiple forms of communication for the community to access the information, provide input on the options, develop alternatives and identify the preferred solution.

 

The survey feedback showed that there was very strong support (88 per cent) for a full or modified building program with the building levy being the preferred option. This result was reflected in that delivered through the deliberative engagement workshop where 87 per cent of the participants supported a full or modified program.

 

As can be seen in Figure 12, the feedback from each of the two key consultation and collaboration strategies provided a consistent message that there is strong support for a full or part program with a building levy being the most preferred funding option.

 

Figure 12: Comparison of results – survey and deliberative engagement workshop

 

 

Survey

Deliberative workshop

No program at all

 

12%

9%

Modified building program

 

34%

49%

Full building program

 

54%

38%

 

Full or modified building program

 

 

88%

 

87%

 

The consultation was transparent and well publicised. The comments and feedback indicated very clearly that residents had been made aware that the special variation was cumulative and that at the end of the three years while the 2.71 per cent would no longer apply, the increase would remain in the rates base. While the rating structure for a section 508A application is more complex the Randwick community demonstrated that they understood the impact of the increase.

 

The fact that the consultation engaged the local community is demonstrated by the high number of surveys returned and the number of visits to the websites. The number of documents downloaded showed that residents were interested in the issues and were able to access the information they needed to become fully informed.

 

There was less support for building all the new community centres and in particular for the Coogee community centre. Overall survey results showed that the Coogee community centre was deemed to have a lower priority than the other centres. The feedback supports renovating the existing Eastward Senior Citizen’s Centre at Brook Street Coogee. Given the condition of the existing building this will be a major single level rebuild that will include expansion to the northern side to accommodate Council’s operational needs with shared usage by police when required; and facilities to meet the requirements of existing and new users such as precinct activities, seniors, preschool, play groups and similar community activities.

 

There was also considerable support for constructing a toilet block in Baker Park Coogee.

 

The financial implications of the modifications to the Buildings for our Community program are detailed in Figure 13.

 

Figure 13: Summary of proposed modifications to the Buildings for our Community program

 

 

Building

Year

Total cost $’000

Building levy

$’000

S94

$’000

Remove from existing program

Coogee community centre

4

$2,275

$1,225

$1,050

Include in modified program

Extensive upgrade of Eastward Senior Citizen’s centre

4

$1,039

$414

$625

Include in modified program

Construction of toilets in Baker Park

4

$583

$583

 

 

These modifications will reduce the overall cost of the building program by $227,439 resulting in a revised variation to rates of 2.69 per cent.

Randwick benchmarks itself against the five metropolitan coastal councils, Sutherland, Waverley, Manly, Warringah and Pittwater that have similar responsibilities for regional beach facilities used by large numbers of non-resident visitors. However as shown in Figure 14, based on the 2007-08 Comparative Data[19] Randwick’s average residential rate ($816) was below the average ($899) for the benchmark group. It is 12 per cent below the average.

 

Figure 14: Comparison of Average Residential Rate for Benchmark Group

However even if Randwick’s rate is increased by the 2.69% special variation, Randwick’s average residential rate will still be below the benchmark average.

 

 

Recommendation

 

That:

 

1.     Council modify the Buildings for our Community program by:

a)   Removal of the new community centre at Neptune Street Coogee from the program

b)   Inclusion of a rebuild of the Eastward Senior Citizen’s centre in year 4 that will provide a single level building with expansion to the northern side to accommodate Council’s operational needs with shared usage by police when required and facilities to meet the requirements of existing and new users such as precinct committee, seniors, preschool, play groups and similar community activities.

c)   Inclusion of the construction of a toilet block in Baker Park Coogee in year 4

 

2.       Council adopt the reduced and modified Buildings for our Community program as detailed in Attachment 7

 

3.       Council fund the Buildings for our Community program by a reduced rate, this being a cumulative 2.69% special variation to rates for three years under section 508A of the Local Government Act 1993

 

4.       Council apply to the Department of Local Government for a 2.69% special variation to rates for three years under section 508A to fund the Buildings for our Community Program.

5.         There will be no exemption for pensioners for the special variation through    subsidisation by other ratepayers.

 

 

Attachment/s:

 

1.View

Full information package placed on Council's website, Buildings for our Community

 

2.View

Brochure distributed to all residents, Buildings for our Community

 

3.View

Mayor's letter distributed to all residents, Buildings for our Community

 

4.View

Survey Report, Buildings for our Community

 

5.View

Focus Groups and Deliberative Engagement Workshop Report, Buildings for our Community (Woolcott Report)

 

6.View

Web activity data on Buildings for our Community pages on Council's website

 

7.

Web activity report on Bang the Table website 16 February - 30 March 2010, Buildings for our Community

 

8.

Modified Seven Year Buildings for our Community Program

 

 

 

 


Full information package placed on Council's website, Buildings for our Community

Attachment 1

 

 

Buildings for our Community

The City of Randwick has a rich social heritage, beautiful physical environment and extensive recreational, cultural, educational, sporting and medical facilities. This is why many of you have chosen to live in the area.

Over the past five years, you have told Randwick City Council through community surveys and submissions that your priorities are roads, footpaths, cleanliness of beaches and parks, and community safety. Over that time, we have targeted our resources on those priorities and worked hard to meet your expectations.

Buildings for our Community

Now we need to invest in the long term sustainability and improve the standard of our community buildings and we want to provide the additional community facilities which you have asked for. To do this we have put together a $34.8 million seven year Buildings for our Community program to renovate or build new community facilities and amenities.

The Council has listened to your requests for better and additional facilities and we believe that as a community you are entitled to buildings that meet today’s standards, not the standards that were in place when some of the buildings were constructed more than 50 years ago. You rightly expect the Council to provide safe buildings and to fix any structural deterioration.

You deserve community buildings that meet a wide range of interests for you, your friends and family. Buildings that provide places to meet, engage in social and sporting activities, and celebrate local events. At present, not every suburb in Randwick City has access to such community buildings.

Your children deserve quality buildings for child care and preschool education and everyone needs access to clean and reliable amenities when they play sport or visit our parks, and halls and community centres for social, cultural and other community gatherings.

Randwick City Council is responsible for over 150 buildings ranging in size from large ones like the Town Hall to small toilet blocks and storage sheds. We have an ongoing annual maintenance program for these buildings. However, the Council has examined the condition of all its community buildings and we have found that many of our existing buildings need major renewal or renovation. This is because of factors such as the age of many of our buildings, deterioration caused by our harsh coastal environment, and changing community expectations and standards.

Using building industry rates we have collated all the costs for these renovations and new buildings, including a contingency amount for unforeseen circumstances.

After assessing the condition and the costs, and taking into account your needs and expectations about community facilities, the Council has put together a seven year building program, Buildings for our Community, to renovate or build new community facilities and amenities.

The planned renovation work

·     Upgrade and renew amenities blocks (toilets, change rooms and kiosk facilities) in our parks, beaches and sporting fields

·     Renovate the senior citizens’ centres at Clovelly and Maroubra Junction and the existing halls at Clovelly, Matraville and South Matraville

·     Upgrade the Council-owned buildings for child care and preschool education

·     Fix the concrete cancer problems in existing buildings such as the surf clubs

·     Provide new or improved toilet facilities in Matraville, Malabar Junction and Kingsford town centres

·     Restore our heritage listed Town Hall and other heritage monuments

·     Upgrade Heffron Park indoor sports centre and the gymnastics facility

The planned new buildings

·     Construct three new community centres at Coogee, Maroubra, Kensington

·     Construct youth facilities in the La Perouse/Chifley area

·     Construct a new child care centre in Popplewell Park, South Coogee

·     Upgrade the Des Renford Aquatic Centre and build a new indoor fitness studio, multi-purpose space and crèche, which will generate additional income to improve the Centre’s financial sustainability and help it become self sufficient.

You can see the full list of 65 projects/works, their location and their associated costs at www.randwick.nsw.gov.au

Funding the Buildings for our Community work

Randwick City Council needs $34.8 million to pay for this seven year building program. To fund it we are considering a special levy - a 2.71 per cent increase in your rates each year for the next three years only. The accumulated increase remains in your rates thereafter. It will continue to fund the agreed building program until it is completed. Such a levy will need State Government approval and will be in addition to a nominated annual rate-peg increase for the next three years.

We want your feedback

The Council has not yet decided to apply for the special levy. First, we want to hear from our ratepayers and residents. We need your feedback and support for the building program and the special levy and we are offering many opportunities for your input.

If, after community consultation, Randwick City Council decides to go ahead with the proposal, the Council must apply to the Department of Local Government for permission to have the levy and must be able to demonstrate community support for the building program and the levy. The final decision on the levy is made by the NSW Department of Local Government.

In February and March 2010 we are undertaking extensive consultation with all sections of our community. We are providing detailed information about the proposed building program, why we need it and how it will benefit you.

We welcome your involvement in making this important decision.

For full details, to find out more and to have your say:

·     Look for the information pack and survey in your letterbox

·     Join the online discussion at www.bangthetable.com

·     Go to the Council’s website at www.randwick.nsw.gov.au

·     Phone the Call Centre on 1300 722 542

·     Visit the Council’s libraries or the Customer Service Centre at 30 Frances St, Randwick NSW 2031

 

 


Randwick City Council’s Buildings for our Community program

Frequently asked questions:

1. Why is this work required?

Randwick is responsible for over 150 buildings of various sizes and ages located across the City. The types of building include civic and administration buildings, the Town Hall, operational depots, libraries, community buildings, children’s centres, amenities such as toilets, change rooms and showers, surf clubs, commercial and residential properties, grandstands, sporting facilities and an aquatic centre. We have an ongoing annual maintenance program for these buildings.

In the Randwick City Plan, the Council made a commitment to our community to make Randwick a liveable city. To do this the Council must plan, manage and fund our public assets including the buildings to meet community expectations and defined levels of service.

·     Changing expectations and standards

Many of these buildings were constructed in the 1960s or 1970s and while they met the standards of that time, fifty years later peoples’ expectations have changed. Bare concrete floors and walls in toilet blocks are no longer adequate nor are the very basic change rooms in many of our amenities blocks.

Building standards and health, safety and accessibility standards have also changed. Upgrading our community buildings to meet current standards will also make them easier to clean and maintain and provide more accessible and serviceable places.

·     Building age

As any home renovator knows, old buildings mean old plumbing, old wiring and old fittings. Many buildings need substantial renovations and upgrades which will also make them more sustainable with longer life spans, lower operating costs and lower ongoing maintenance costs.

·     Major deterioration

Our beautiful coastal areas are also harsh environments. The salt air causes the reinforcement within concrete to rust resulting in serious deterioration. This is commonly known as concrete cancer. This damage accelerates over time and must be fixed to prevent the failure of the building. Concrete cancer is particularly prevalent in our surf club buildings.

·     Community needs

For many years residents and groups have asked the Council for local community centres in various locations across the City. Council owned multi-purpose community centres are for people of all ages and play a vital role in developing a healthy and connected community. For example, they are used by play groups, seniors, social and sporting groups; as meeting rooms for the community; musical or dance rehearsals; support services such as counselling; and for classes such as dance, yoga, multi-media and art.

In recent years two multi-purpose community centres have been built in Randwick City - at Randwick and at Little Bay. The Buildings for our Community program proposes three new multi-purpose community centres - at Coogee, Maroubra Beach and Kensington – as well as a youth facility in the Matraville/Chifley area.

·     Community benefits

There is something for every part of our community in the Buildings for our Community program.

If your child attends a child care centre or plays sport; if you swim at the Des Renford Aquatic Centre or are a member of a surf club; if you use the toilets when visiting a beach or park; if you join in the activities at a Senior Citizens Centre or attend yoga classes in a community centre; or if you walk through Heffron Park, you will benefit from these works.

At the completion of the Buildings for our Community program there will be new and upgraded community centres that will become the hearts of their communities and benefit our whole community.

2. What new work is planned?

The proposed renovation work:

·     Upgrade and renew amenities blocks (toilets, change rooms and kiosk facilities) in our parks, beaches and sporting fields

·     Renovate the senior citizens’ centres at Clovelly and Maroubra Junction and the existing halls at Clovelly, Matraville and South Matraville

·     Upgrade the Council-owned buildings for child care and preschool education

·     Fix the concrete cancer problems in existing buildings such as the surf clubs

·     Provide new or improved toilet facilities in Matraville, Malabar Junction and Kingsford town centres

·     Restore our heritage listed Town Hall and other heritage monuments

·     Upgrade Heffron Park indoor sports centre and the gymnastics facility

The proposed new buildings:

·     Construct three new community centres at Coogee, Maroubra, Kensington

·     Construct youth facilities in the La Perouse/Chifley area

·     Construct a new child care centre in Popplewell Park, South Coogee

·     Upgrade the Des Renford Aquatic Centre and build a new indoor fitness studio, multi-purpose space and crèche, which will generate additional income to improve the Centre’s financial sustainability and help it become self sufficient.

See the full list of 65 projects/works, their location and associated costs at www.randwick.nsw.gov.au

3. Does all this work have to be done in seven years?

The work in the Buildings for our Community program described in Question 2 includes all the buildings that require major upgrade and renewal as well as the new buildings that the community has requested.

The Council would like your comments on the whole building program as well as your views on which projects are the most important to you. In the feedback survey there is an opportunity for you to let us know your priorities for these projects and to indicate if you would prefer a modified building program.

·     Look for the information pack and survey in your letterbox

·     Join the online discussion at www.bangthetable.com

·     Go to the Council’s website at www.randwick.nsw.gov.au

·     Phone the Call Centre on 1300 722 542

·     Visit the Council’s libraries or the Customer Service Centre at 30 Frances St, Randwick NSW 2031

4. Isn’t this just maintenance work?

No. The Council has an ongoing building maintenance program that is funded from its annual budget. In 2009-10 the Council’s maintenance budget is $11.1 million, which has to fund maintenance work on parks, roads, footpaths, kerb and guttering, and drainage, as well as community buildings.

This building maintenance budget is not enough to fund the major renovations needed due to the age and deterioration of the buildings and problems such as concrete cancer. It is also not adequate to meet the increasing expectations of the public about the type, design and quality of the buildings.

5. What is all this new work going to cost?

The Council’s engineering and building experts have assessed the condition of the existing buildings and the required renovations and, together with the new buildings, estimated the cost based on undertaking the work over the next seven years.

The total cost is approximately $34.8 million. The Council already has $4.7 million from other sources.

The Council needs an additional $30.1 million to complete the work program.

6. How can the Council pay for this new work?

The most effective option for the Council to fund the whole Buildings for our Community program is to apply to the Department of Local Government for a special levy on rates.

A 2.71 per cent special levy on rates for the next three years will fund the whole building program over seven years. This is because the accumulated increase remains in your rates thereafter and becomes an ongoing part of the Council’s income. It will continue to fund the agreed building program until it is completed. Such a levy will need State Government approval and will be in addition to a nominated annual rate-peg increase for the next three years.

The levy will provide immediate funds for essential work to fix the concrete cancer problems and it will raise sufficient revenue to complete the full program over seven years.

A 2.71 per cent levy on rates for three years and completing the building program in seven years will cost far less than undertaking the building program over a longer period of time. This is because the buildings will continue to deteriorate even more rapidly and over that time building costs will increase which will mean substantial increases in the costs overall.

The building levy will also cost the community much less than options such as going into debt.

The use of the funds raised from the levy will be transparent. The full list of all works the Buildings for our Community program for the next seven years is on the Council’s website at www.randwick.nsw.gov.au now. The specific work proposed for each coming year will be publicly exhibited as part of the development of the annual management plan. Progress on the Buildings for our Community program will be regularly reported to our community.

7. The Council puts up rates every year so why can’t that pay for the new work?

The State Government sets a limit on the total amount of income that a council can raise from certain rates and charges. This amount is recalculated each year and any permitted increase is called the ‘rate-peg percentage increase’. It is decided by the Minister for Local Government.

While this rate-peg increase enables councils to meet some annual cost increases, it is always less than the actual increase in costs, for example, inflation costs and changes in demand, especially for contractors and road building materials.

Every year the Council works hard to absorb these increased costs through efficiency improvements.

Our research has shown that the Council’s costs including materials, street lighting, fuel, energy and contracts will increase by an average of 4.55 per cent each year for the next three years.

The annual rate-peg increase is less than these expected increases in costs and will not provide adequate funds to undertake any additional programs such as the Buildings for our Community program.

8. How much are my rates going to increase?

This will depend on the land value of your property and the other components that need to be taken into account.

Firstly, as part of the Council’s application to the Department of Local Government for the special building levy as a variation to rates, the Council has to determine the total funding it requires for the next three years to deliver all its programs, achieve the service standards expected by our community, meet increased costs and to implement the Buildings for our Community program.

 

We can do this because we have in place an effective integrated planning framework that includes the 20 year Randwick City Plan, a long term financial plan, a four year 2009-2013 delivery program and workforce and asset management plans.

 

The Council has to nominate a ‘rate-peg percentage increase’ for each of the three years and add that amount to the 2.71 percent proposed for the special building levy. This means, in our consultations with the community, we can let our community know what the full rates increase is going to be for each of the next three years.

 

If the Council’s application is supported by the community and approved by the Department of Local Government, these percentage amounts are fixed for the next three years and cannot be increased further. This means that the Council’s total rates income for the next three years raised from all properties in the Randwick area will only increase by the nominated rate-peg percentage amount and the 2.71 per cent special building levy.

 

After consultation with the community, if the Council decides not to apply to the Department of Local Government for the 2.7 per cent special building levy as a variation to rates, or if our application is not approved, then ‘the rate-peg percentage increase’ approved by the Minister each year will be applied.

 

Table 1 shows examples of estimated rates increases for the 2.7 per cent building levy component for each of the next three years as applied to sample land values.

Table 1

 

Estimated building levy component of the annual rates increase for each of the next 3 years

Land Value

$

Current Rate

2009-10

Year 1

2010-11

Year 2

2011-12

Year 3

2012-13

318,000
(Minimum rate)

$549.50

$14.89

$15.68

$16.66

500,000

$875.70

$23.73

$24.99

$26.56

700,000

$1,225.98

$33.22

$34.99

$37.18

900,000

$1,576.26

$42.72

$44.98

$47.80

1,100,000

$1,926.54

$52.21

$54.98

$58.42

1,500,000

$2,627.10

$71.19

$74.97

$79.67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2. Examples of the total rate-peg and levy amounts accumulated over three years as applied to sample land values.

 

Table 2

Land value

$

Accumulated increase over 3 years

2010-2013

Nominated rate-peg

Building program levy

Combined total

318,000

(minimum rate)

$106.02

$92.70

$198.72

500,000

$168.96

$147.73

$316.69

700,000

$236.54

$206.83

$443.37

900,000

$304.13

$265.92

$570.05

1,100,000

$371.71

$325.01

$696.73

1,500,000

$506.88

$443.20

$950.08

 

The following table (Table 3) shows the actual annual rates amounts (excluding other charges) for the next 3 years, including the nominated rate peg and the building levy, as applied to sample land values.

Table 3

What will my rates be each year for the next 3 years?

 

Land Value

$

Current

2009-10

Year 1

2010-11

Year 2

2011-12

Year 3

2012-13

Change over
3 years

 

318,000
(Minimum Rate)

$549.50

$578.68

$614.90

$653.64

$104.14

 

500,000

$875.70

$922.20

$979.93

$1,041.66

$165.96

 

700,000

$1,225.98

$1,291.08

$1,371.90

$1,458.33

$232.35

 

900,000

$1,576.26

$1,659.96

$1,763.87

$1,875.00

$298.74

 

1,100,000

$1,926.54

$2,028.84

$2,155.84

$2,291.66

$365.12

 

1,500,000

$2,627.10

$2,766.60

$2,939.79

$3,124.99

$497.89

 

 

NOTE: Land value for average rate: $492,000

9. How do new land values affect my rates?

Every three years, the NSW Valuer General reassesses NSW property values. Local councils use these values as a basis for setting local rates. The new 2009 valuations have just been issued by the NSW Valuer General and will be used for rating purposes in 2010-11, the new values have increased by less than 7 per cent on average. The Council's overall rates income is limited by rate pegging, so an increase in land value does not mean a corresponding increase in rates.

Randwick City Council’s minimum rate applies to properties with a land value of less than $318,000. This accounts for 51% of properties in the City of Randwick.

Rates increases from ratepayer to ratepayer will vary depending on the movement in land values for individual properties. However, for the next three years, the total rates income raised from all properties in the Randwick area will increase by the rate-peg percentage amount and the 2.71 per cent special building levy. These amounts are shown in Table 3.

The following chart shows the distribution of property values in Randwick City according to their 2009 land values.

Table 4: Shows that 82 per cent of properties in Randwick City have a land value of less than $700,000 and will pay, on average, less than $68.94 per year for the building levy.

Average accumulated increase and the proportion of property values

 

Land value

$

Current rate

2009-10

Accumulated building program increase

Average
over 3 years

% of properties in land value range

 

 

318,000
(Minimum rate)

$549.50

$92.70

$30.90

51%

 

500,000

$875.70

$147.73

$49.24

13%

 

700,000

$1,225.98

$206.83

$68.94

18%

 

900,000

$1,576.26

$265.92

$88.64

10%

 

1,100,000

$1,926.54

$325.01

$108.34

4%

 

1,500,000

$2,627.10

$443.20

$147.73

4%

 

 

Some hypothetical households showing how the building levy will affect rates

Lucy

Lucy and her family live in a free standing house in Maroubra. She has 2 children aged 3 and 6. Lucy’s youngest goes to pre-school three days a week, and her eldest plays sport on the weekends and attends ballet classes at the local community centre. Lucy does canteen duty with the other soccer mums on Saturday mornings at the kiosk at local sports field.

Lucy takes her Dad to senior’s events at the same local community centre from time to time and goes to yoga classes there twice a week.

Lucy’s partner is a keen member of the South Maroubra Surf Club and the kids go to Nippers.

The land value of Lucy’s property is $700,000 and her rates in 2009-10 were $1,225.98.

The effect on Lucy’s rates of the first year of the Buildings for our Community levy will be a $33.22 increase. Over three years of paying the levy, Lucy will have paid a total of $206.83 towards upgrading community buildings.

Lucy and her family will enjoy the benefits of the renovated community buildings and facilities that she and her family use.

Bob and Jesse

Bob and Jesse are retired and live in a home unit in Clovelly. Jesse has always been an active volunteer with the historical society and loves going to the ‘Computer Pals for seniors’ group which operates out of the local senior citizens’ centre.

A life-long fisherman, Bob belongs to the Gordons Bay Fishing Club and takes a daily walk along the Coastal Walkway. He is a regular at the Coffee Club swimming group at the Des Renford Aquatic Centre.

Bob and Jesse pay the minimum rate, currently $549.50, based on the land value of their strata unit which is $222,000.

In the first year of the Buildings for our Community levy, Bob and Jesse will pay a building levy of $14.89. All ratepayers on the minimum rate will pay the same levy amount. Over three years of paying the levy, Bob and Jesse will have paid an accumulated total of $92.70 towards upgrading community buildings. In 2012-2013, at the end of the three years their rates (not including other charges) will be $653.64.

 

10. Can pensioners receive any concessions or rebates on rates?

Eligible pensioners in Randwick City will receive a rebate that is set by the State Government if they have a pensioner concession card issued by the Commonwealth Government. 

Land values in many areas across Randwick City have increased substantially over the past decade. As a result, some pensioners own property that has a high land value and consequently attracts high Council rates.

We encourage pensioners who are in this situation to speak to the Council’s rates staff about the options available to help them pay their rates.

11. What are the other Council charges on my rates notice?

Your annual rates bill is a mixture of both ‘rates’ and ‘charges’. Your residential or business rates are levied in relation to your land value and include the Environmental Levy. Charges are fixed amounts for specific services such as Domestic Waste (your garbage collection) and Stormwater Management. These charges are not subject to rate pegging.

Domestic Waste charges increase in line with the costs for providing the service. Stormwater Management is regulated by State legislation and will not increase in 2010-11.

12. When will the levy and building program commence?

If the Buildings for our Community program is supported by the community and approved by the Department of Local Government, the levy and the building work will commence in July 2010.

13. Are there other options to fund the work?

The Council has examined other funding options. The impact of each of these options is explained below. However, none of these options is as effective as the proposed building levy to fully fund the work in the Buildings for our Community program within seven years.

·        Going into debt: Randwick Council had to work very hard to become debt free and is one of the very few councils across the state in that situation. If we borrow $30.1 million and repay it over 30 years we will pay an additional $49.5 million in interest. Those annual repayments over the 30 years can only be made by cutting services or increasing rates.

·        Increasing fees and charges: Many of the fees are we charge, such as hall hire, are on a partial cost recovery basis to promote local social and economic activity and to ensure facilities are available to low income users. Other fees such as development application fees are set by the State Government and cannot be changed. It is not possible for the Council to raise the amount we need through increasing our general fees and charges.

 

Many other councils have increased their revenue through the introduction of parking meters. However, in 2005 Randwick Council consulted extensively with our community on installing parking meters. Our community did not support parking meters and we made a commitment to the community not to install them.

 

·        Speculative entrepreneurial activities can be highly risky. As a responsible steward of public funds, the Council does not consider it prudent to risk ratepayers’ money and the future of our City by entering into such activities.

The Council operates several business activities such as the Community Nursery, Moverly Children's Centre, a Commercial Waste Service, the Des Renford Aquatic Centre in addition to holding a both a property and an investment portfolio. The Council's businesses have a community focus, with funds generated from these activities going back into the business.

The scope for expanding into new activities, such as new investment products, food franchises, paid parking stations, etc. is limited or in some cases not permitted by a State Government order which governs the types of investments a Council may make.

 

Given the Council's policies, legislation and the limited opportunities, it is not feasible to generate the funding required for the building program through these activities.

 

·        Reallocation of the existing budget: The Council’s current budget allocations reflect the priorities identified by the community: maintaining local roads and footpaths, cleaning beaches and parks, community health and safety. We cannot continue to do this if we have to reallocate the budget to the proposed building works without significantly impacting on the quality of life that you enjoy. Reallocating the budget means that our roads will have more potholes; there may be reduced library opening hours; the beaches may be cleaned only three times each week rather than every day; dumped rubbish can not be collected as promptly; parks will be mown less frequently and fewer footpaths can be constructed each year.

       Over the past five years, the Council has focused on achieving efficiency improvements and cost savings.  As a result we have not had to go into debt or sell income earning properties to pay for such improvements such as the renovations of Malabar and Randwick libraries; the upgrading of the town centres; putting footpaths in every street and resurfacing our major roads.

 

       Our efficiency savings have funded our improved service standards and in our community surveys you have told us that you are now more satisfied with what we are doing. 

·        Business as usual - complete the work with existing budgets: The Council will continue to maintain our existing buildings from operational budgets. Given the higher maintenance costs incurred as buildings age, our budgets would need to focus increasingly on maintenance rather than major upgrades or new buildings.

       The renewal, major upgrade and construction of new buildings requires additional capital funding. At the current level of capital spending on buildings it will take approximately 55 years to complete all the projects. For example, we would be able to fund one new community centre approximately every ten years and the toilet and amenities blocks would be slowly upgraded over the longer period.

       Council can not let the surf clubs that are riddled with concrete cancer become so structurally unsound that they are unusable. We will need to find the funds for this work by cutting back other programs and reducing our service standards.

       Over time, essential upgrades to child care centres may have to be funded through increasing the rent charged to the community operators.

       In some cases, after considering the level of usage and the high costs of renewal, without the funds to upgrade them Council may have to make the decision to demolish and not replace some buildings such as the Heffron Indoor Sports Centre, Heffron Indoor Gymnastics and Mahon Pool toilets and change rooms, Totem Scouts’ Hall, Clovelly Senior Citizen’s Centre, the glass house at Council’s nursery and the Coogee and Gordon’s Bay Fishing Clubs. 

14. How do other Councils pay for their building programs?

·     Rates Revenue: Based on comparative figures for 2008-09, Randwick’s average residential rate is lower than the metropolitan coastal councils’ average rate of $899.

Average residential rate

Ø Randwick                                 $815

Ø Manly Council                           $1003

Ø Warringah Council                            $918

Ø Sutherland Shire Council                   $932

Ø Pittwater Council                              $1081

Ø Waverley                                 $643

Ø Average for coastal councils’            $899

 

With their higher operating incomes per capita the other councils can fund more capital works as well as increased programs and services.

 

·     Other charges: Many councils receive substantial revenue from parking charges. Waverley receives additional income of $790 per ratepayer from parking meters, fines and parking stations on top of their average residential rate of $643. The City of Sydney’s parking income is $36 million.

 

·     Business rates and property rentals income: Some metropolitan councils such as North Sydney, Parramatta, Willoughby and City of Sydney receive significant income from business rates, while others have substantial property portfolios.

 

·     Other levies: Many councils have infrastructure and sporting field levies in place.

15. How is the community being consulted? What will the Council do with the feedback?

Community consultation is taking place from now to 26 March 2010 and there will be various opportunities for your feedback. You can complete the feedback questionnaire, send an email or letter, or join our online blog. The Council will meet with community and stakeholder groups and is also holding externally facilitated focus groups and a deliberative engagement workshop with a randomly selected cross section of the community.

All feedback will be recorded and reported to the Council in March or April 2010. If the Council decides to submit an application to the Department of Local Government, the application will reflect the feedback from the community.

There will be another opportunity for public feedback when the draft Management Plan 2010-13 is placed on public exhibition during May 2010.

Finally, each individual project will be subject to detailed design and consultation before to its implementation.


Brochure distributed to all residents, Buildings for our Community

Attachment 2

 

 



Mayor's letter distributed to all residents, Building for our Community

Attachment 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Resident

 

Randwick City Council has prepared a seven year building construction and renewal program for our community facilities and amenities. The $34.8 million Buildings for our Community program includes constructing new buildings and amenities as well as renovations to our existing buildings, many of which are now more than 50 years old and in poor condition. Each of the 65 projects proposed in the program has been assessed to ensure that it meets the needs of our community.

 

To pay for this program the Council has to apply to the Department of Local Government for a special 2.71 per cent levy on rates for the next three years. This is in addition to the annual rate-peg increase. We have not yet decided to apply for the special levy because we want to hear from our community first.

 

The Council has resolved to carry out extensive community consultation with all residents. We are making detailed information available to the whole community on the Council’s website at www.randwick.nsw.gov.au. You can find out about all 65 proposed projects and the special levy as well as the rate-peg increase and what it means for your rates.

 

In this envelope you will find a brochure giving a summary of the building program and a community survey with a reply-paid envelope. I encourage you to look at the details on the website and complete this survey and return it in the envelope provided by Friday 19 March 2010. You can complete the survey online at Council’s website if you prefer.

 

We want your views and feedback on the building program and the way we propose to fund it. All community feedback will be considered by the Council and will help us in deciding whether to apply for the special levy. If we do apply, the Minister for Local Government then makes the final decision about rates increases.

 

If you have any further questions about this community survey please phone the Council’s Call Centre on 1300 722 542.

 

The Council needs your support for the building program and the special levy and we welcome your involvement in making this important decision. 

 

 

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

Cr John Procopiadis

Mayor of Randwick


Survey Report, Buildings for our Community

Attachment 4

 

 






















Focus Groups and Deliberative Engagement Workshop Report, Buildings for our Community (Woolcott Report)

Attachment 5

 

 





































































Web activity data on Buildings for our Community pages on Council's website

Attachment 6

 

 


Web activity report on Bang the Table website 16 February - 30 March 2010, Buildings for our Community

Attachment 7

 

 




Modified Seven Year Buildings for our Community Program

Attachment 8

 

 













      

 



[1] Guidelines for preparation of an application for a special variation to general income in 2010/11

[2] Journalist Deborah Cameron , ABC 702 Sydney, discussion about Randwick City Council asking for consideration of a special levy on rates, 27/03/2010, 11:23 am

[3] Guidelines for preparation of an application for a special variation to general income in 2010/11, page 21

[4] Media Release 17 February 2010

[5] Advertisement in Southern Courier…

[6] Brochure distributed to every household in Randwick City and available at all meetings. Provided in all Council facilities where public attends such as Customer Service centre, libraries and aquatic centre

[7] In FAQ on website

[8] Journalist Deborah Cameron , ABC 702 Sydney, discussion about Randwick City Council asking for consideration of a special levy on rates, 27/03/2010, 11:23 am

[9] Submission from president of Matraville precinct committee

[10] Long Term Financial Plan 2010-11 to 2029-30, pages 45-46

[11] One table included on back page of survey

[12] Four tables in more detailed information on RCC website and Bang the Table site. Also provided in hard copy at meetings and where requested

[13] Demystifying the dark art of polling, Andrew Catsaras, Sydney Morning Herald March 2010

[14] 2006 ABS census data

[15] La Perouse includes Phillip Bay

[16] Woolcott research report: Buildings for our community focus groups and deliberative forum, February 2010, page 25

[17] Woolcott research report: Buildings for our community focus groups and deliberative forum, February 2010, page 23

[18] Feedback from Coogee precinct committee

[19] NSW Comparative Statistics 2007-2008