Bega Valley Shire Council has recorded largely positive results in an annual council performance report card released by Local Government Minister Paul Toole last week.
The report assessed Council’s infrastructure management as ‘strong’, while financial sustainability figures earned a ‘sound’ rating, with a ‘neutral’ outlook.
The figures, which relate to the 2012-13 financial year, showed significantly lower ordinary business rates ($931.52 below average) and farmland rates ($223.26 below average), while residential rates ($25.84 below average) also bettered the group average.
Significantly higher were residential water and sewer bills ($369 above average), and domestic waste charges ($60.30 above average).
Mayor Bill Taylor says he is pleased to see Council performing strongly against the group average, and explained the reasoning behind the higher charges for water and sewerage.
“Keeping in mind that these figures are now over 12 months old, if you look at the figures for water and sewerage charges, we are higher than the average by $369, but there is a reason for that,” Cr Taylor said.
“We have 10 sewage treatment plants in the Bega Valley, so we have a lot more areas that require that spend than most places.”
This is also reflected in water and sewer services expenditure, which came in $306.92 higher.
Other above average expenditure comparisons saw an average $41.77 more spent on the environment, and $19.35 more on governance and administration.
On the flip side, Development Applications took an average of six days less to go through Council and 16 per cent more companion animals are registered and microchipped.
While neighbouring Eurobodalla Shire Council ranked fourth in the state for most code of conduct complaints against councillors with 15, carrying an associated cost of $1982, Bega Valley Shire Council received none.
Cr Taylor said this could be put down to positive relations both among Councillors, and between Council and the community.
“As Councillors, we get on very well, and we don’t vote in blocks or along party lines,” he said.
“We look at each issue on its merits, and if we felt someone was getting close to the edge, we would get together and say, ‘Look, there might be a problem here’.
“Council staff are also all local people, and our relatively small population means we all live in, and are involved in, the local community.
“If ever a problem was to arise, it could generally be dealt with through civilised discussion, rather than it having to evolve to that level of complaint.”
As expected, the report also showed a higher percentage of residents aged over 60, with a lower percentage in all other age groups.
There were 204 less active businesses in the region, the average taxable income was $4929 lower, and unemployment was 0.6 per cent lower.
The region’s socioeconomic index rank fell slightly below the midway point.
To view the full report, visit http://www.dlg.nsw.gov.au/dlg/dlghome/documents/Comparatives/Comparative%20Publication%202012-13.pdf, and go to page 56-57.