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Council in strong position for the future (Administrator’s end of term report)


Georges River Council is progressing well. Over the past 16 months, Council’s leadership team has been rejuvenated, with clear strategic direction that has enabled Council to deliver larger capital programs, improved services, greater transparency, capacity and consistency in decision making.
Administrator of Georges River Council, John Rayner said in his end of term report his role as Administrator, ably assisted by the General Manager, Gail Connolly, has been to successfully establish the new Council and ensure a smooth transition to the Council to be elected later this month.
“I am proud of what has been achieved and it reflects positively on the organisation which has strived to deliver the best possible outcomes for the community. The tangible benefits will continue to become more evident over the coming years,” he said.
“Our focus has been on expanding services across the whole area and harmonising inconsistent services, as well as developing the framework necessary for open and transparent governance, and evidence-based, sustainable decision making.
“The NSW Government provided $10 million through the New Council Implementation Fund to cover the upfront costs of implementing the new Council.
“These finds will be utilised to December 2018 to assist with the costs associated with integrating systems and technology, logo and branding, expert implementation advice, staff development and supporting change to name a few key areas.
“Council also received $10 million from the Stronger Communities Fund provided by the NSW Government. These funds were allocated to Council to kick-start the delivery of community-oriented projects and initiatives that directly improve community infrastructure and services.”
Mr Rayner added Council’s strong financial position remains robust with a savings target of $8.9 million to be achieved by September 2017 – as at 30 June 2017, Council had reached $9.91 million in identified savings and efficiencies.
Council is on track to meet and exceed its State government savings targets of $24 million over the next 10 years,” he said.
“Council’s legal costs for 2016/17 are the lowest they have been for three years, which is very pleasing.
“Greater buying power has been achieved, for example savings of over $250,000 in road re-sheeting. For 2017/2018, Council will have a Capital Works Program of $50 million partly as a result of the Stronger Communities Fund and a windfall CDO Dividend.
An increased focus on openness and transparency has resulted in 34 governance policies being adopted or under consideration.”
Mr Rayner said the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (IHAP) was established and the NSW Government’s model closely resembles Georges River’s best practice Panel.
“I’m pleased with Council’s overall increase in community engagement and consultation.
“Significant community consultation initiatives, including Meet the Administrator sessions, were also adopted including rotating Council meetings across the wards of the local government area, through online and face-to-face consultation sessions on local development plans and the development of Council policies.
“Council has invested in the refurbishment of the former Council Chambers which include updated audio/visual capabilities, a larger public gallery and webcasting capability technology which increases accessibility to Council meetings.
“A new multifunctional, flexible space replaces the old Chambers and can be used by Council and the community every day.”
Mr Rayner said Council is continuing and increasing its support for not-for-profit community projects. 34 not-for-profit community groups received a portion each of $200,000 funding from the Georges River Community Grants program.
“This funding has been increased to $400,000 for 2017/18 with a second round of funding of $200,000 to be allocated later this financial year,” he said.
“To ensure ongoing service harmonisation and improvement, Council is continuing with service reviews across the organisation and will continue to deliver improvements that are of benefit to our community.
“Council is also consulting with the community in the preparation of its first Community Strategic Plan which will identify the priorities, aspirations and vision of the community.
“The draft Community Strategic Plan will be ready for the new Council to consider following the local government elections in September 2017.”
Mr Rayner said “I wish the incoming Council every success in making Georges River an even better place.”
The full Administrator’s Report can be viewed on Council’s website.
Administrator’s end of term report achievements
The achievements and reinvestments are many and include:

  • establishment of the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel;
  • pensioner rate rebate program extended to Kogarah pensioners;
  • extension of customer service centres hours of operation and harmonisation of services and products;
  • significant reduction in legal costs and insurance premiums;
  • additional road repairs and re-sheeting through improved purchasing capacity;
  • new and expanded community events such as Starlight Cinema and the White Ribbon Walk;
  • implementation works to kickstart the Disability Inclusion Action Plan;
  • St George Business Chamber – provision of free office premises and annual grant funding to provide city-wide programs;
  • increase in Community Grants from $147,000 to $400,000 per year;
  • expanded graffiti removal services;
  • sustainability and waste minimisation education programs;
  • $50 million Capital Works Program for 2017/18;
  • co-location of staff to Georges River (Hurstville) Civic Centre;
  • resumption of direct management of Jubilee Oval and Carss Park War Memorial Pool including creation of asset maintenance and renewal budget;
  • appointment of an Internal Auditor and establishment of external Audit Risk and Improvement Committee; and
  • adoption of Voluntary Planning Agreement Policy.
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