Community Update # 2

Aug 24, 2022

Lithgow Council is inviting the community to join the conversation on two options to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the council.

If you prefer Option 1 ‘Maintained’, Council can:

  • Maintain roads, footpaths, town centres, villages and buildings to a level agreed with the community.
  • Renew public infrastructure in a timely and planned way.
  • Maintain all current services to the community, including playing fields, parks, aquatic centre, libraries, community facilities, disaster recovery, stormwater etc
  • Improve its financial sustainability and performance, with special attention directed to expanding and diversifying the local economy – more jobs.

An explanation to the above option:

  • An expert review, independent of Council, closely considered the cost of providing services to the whole of the Lithgow local government area – identifying a shortfall of $6 million.
  • Because costs exceed revenue by at least $6 million there have been sustained deficit operating results in previous years.
  • A consequence of the above is that Council has not been able to adequately fund necessary asset maintenance and on-time asset renewal, especially for the largest value asset of roads. Option 1 maintains service levels and significantly increases funding for road maintenance and renewal.

To do nothing is not an option because in that case the size of the challenge (the funds required) increases each year.

If you prefer Option 2 ‘Reduced’, Council will:

  • Present a plan that reduces the provision of infrastructure and services to align with existing Council revenues.
  • Reduce services for community and recreation facilities and services and close unsafe facilities.
  • Continue to reduce services over future years as short-term service level reductions will not be sufficient to ensure essential assets reach assumed asset lives.

An explanation to the above option:

  • If Council chooses not to proceed with a rating increase or IPART determines not to approve Council’s application, Council will undertake a comprehensive review of its services and present a plan to the community for a reduction in levels of service.
  • The plan will prioritise the maintenance of essential services over more discretionary services.
  • Council anticipates that this process would take approximately twelve months and will again involve extensive community engagement.
  • To do nothing is not an option because in that case the size of the challenge (the funds required) increases each year.

What do we get for our rates?

Some people in the community, particularly in our rural communities, feel that they do not have access to services and that everything is centred around the town centres of Lithgow, Wallerawang and Portland. So, what are some of the services we get for our rates?

  • Across our Seven Valleys, Council maintains 975km of roads which is the equivalent of driving from Lithgow to the Gold Coast.
  • We manage weeds and mow roadsides.
  • We maintain community halls and provide assistance to progress associations and community groups.
  • We maintain sporting fields, parks and reserves.
  • We maintain rural landfills and provide waste transfer stations.
  • We provide business services such as economic development and tourism programs, permits for busking, footpath trading and home-based businesses as well as registration of food premises.
  • We provide emergency management for our community including:
    • Servicing the Rural Fire Service Fleet.
    • Undertaking fire prevention activities including issuing fire prevention notices and working with fire agencies to reduce fire risks.
    • Planning overlay controls to address risks to properties such as fire and flood
    • Operating relief and recovery centres during/after an emergency
    • Coordinating emergency shelter for displaced people and animals
  • We provide disaster recovery services:
    • Coordinating clean-up activities
    • Assessing occupancy of damaged buildings, safety of sites after an emergency, and overseeing rebuilding (permits/inspections).