Key Issues

    Sustainability measures at a glance

    • Despite meeting the NSW Government’s benchmarks for efficiency, Council is not financially sustainable over the long term.
    • The cost of meeting our current service obligations and infrastructure backlog is more than our income.
    • Council has introduced a range of measures to improve efficiency, but they will not be enough to keep Council financially secure over the long term.
    • Council has a massive infrastructure backlog – particularly in roads and road-related infrastructure – that cannot be addressed with our current income and expenditure commitments.
    • Council is seeking community feedback on proposals to improve its long-term financial stability.
    • These measures include:
    • An 8% rise in the general rate each year for five years starting from July 1, 2016
    • A review of 24 discretionary services
    • The possible sale of non-strategic property assets, and
    • Investigation into possible lease-type financing of plant, equipment, vehicles and, if feasible, large infrastructure items.
    • Any additional income from a rate rise above the NSW Government’s rate-pegged limit would be spent on roads and road-related infrastructure.
    • An annual 8% increase in rates would yield about $2million annually in extra income.
    • For average residential ratepayers, an 8% rise in the general rate (including the rate-pegged amount) would mean an extra cost of under $2.50 a week.
    • No money raised from a rate rise above the pegged limit will be used on other Council projects, for example the depot and administration building rationalisation.
    • Council is not in immediate financial danger, but cannot continue to spend more than it earns.
    • Doing nothing is not an option.
    • If we don’t deal with our own financial situation there is a risk the NSW Government will step in take its own actions, which are unknown.
    • Council will be taking comments on the proposals until September 25.

    Building a road to sustainability

    A message from the Mayor, Richie Williamson, and General Manager Scott Greensill

    We all know the Clarence Valley is a great place to live, work and play.

    However, the Clarence Valley Council is facing serious financial pressures to maintain the public assets, infrastructure and services at a level the community wants.

    Based on current income and outlays, Council is financially unsustainable over the long term.

    With our current and projected income, we cannot afford to continue to deliver the current levels of service to the community and maintain our infrastructure at an appropriate level without changes.

    Council looks after around $2 billion worth of public assets.

    To give just a small example of what that means, we have to maintain more than 2,068 kilometres of roads, 283 bridges (129 of them timber), 168 kilometres of stormwater pipes and 6,100 pits, 110 kilometres of flood levees, 1,170 hectares of parks, sports fields and reserves, two community centres, 37 community halls, three indoor sports centres, six public swimming pools, four public libraries five administration buildings and eight works depots and a host of other facilities in a 10,500 square kilometre area.

    Over many years, funding for repair and renewal of this infrastructure has gradually been reduced to fund other operational expenditure. If this course of action continues, the quality of our assets will deteriorate as will the services they can deliver.

    We still need to spend an additional $5 million every year repairing and renewing those roads, bridges, pipe networks, playgrounds and buildings just to keep pace with deterioration so that they remain in a useable condition.  Currently we spend about $12.2 million in infrastructure maintenance, but we should be spending $17.2 million.

    This infrastructure maintenance shortfall has been ongoing, and we now have an infrastructure backlog of about $60.2 million.

    This situation has been created over several decades, primarily as a result of:

    State Government 'Rate Pegging' - legislation that, over the past 30 years, meant increases in revenue have not kept pace with inflation or CPI.

    Cost Shifting. Council is now responsible for extra services that were previously the responsibility of State or Federal Government.  In the 2013-14 financial year, that cost shifting was estimated to have cost the Clarence Valley Council $7.03 million.

    Community Expectations. Council now delivers a much wider range of services than it did in the past.

    Council has spent a number of years ensuring the way we do business is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.  In 2012 we introduced the Strategic Organisation Action Plan to ensure to makes sure our spending was well focused and appropriate.  An updated version of that document was adopted earlier this year.  This year we conducted a review of all our services to determine where efficiencies could be achieved and will continue that process in 2015/16.

    The second Strategic Organisation Action Plan will identify further savings, productivity and revenue options to help meet the shortfall of about $16.1 milliona year in operational expenditure.

    This gap needs to be funded so we can deal with the ongoing deficits in the day-to-day running of services – and to prevent our infrastructure backlog growing further.

    In a nutshell – we need to fill this gap so we can continue to deliver the type and levels of service you, the community, have made clear you want.  And, what we have been told through community surveys and feedback from residents, is you want more done to repair and maintain our roads and road-related infrastructure.

    In October Council will consider a range of measures to improve our long-term financial sustainability. Those measures include a rise in the ordinary rate of 8% each year (including the rate-pegged amount) for five years from July 1, 2016, a review of 24 discretionary services and a range of other measures.  This equates to about $1.50 per week for the “average” residential ratepayer based on $1000 rates.  That’s about $1 a week more than the increase those ratepayers would be expected to pay if a rise of 2.5% (an assumed allowable increase under the State Government’s rate-pegged limit) applied.  It should be noted that if an 8% rise in the ordinary rate and base charges eventuates, it will not apply to utility charges, which comprise about 60% of your rates bill. For residents of Maclean, Townsend, Yamba, Grafton and Junction Hill for example, if an 8% rise was applied to the ordinary rate and base charges as of 2015/16, it would result in an increase in the total rates bill of about 4.6%.

    Survey forms have been mailed to all rateable properties and are available at Council offices and libraries. Any written comments you might like to make will also be taken into account.  These should be posted to Locked Bag 23, Grafton, 2460, emailed to or dropped into our Maclean or Grafton offices by 4pm September 25, 2015.

    Please take the time to read through and understand the information contained in this brochure.

    We want to continue to work with you to make sure the Clarence Valley remains the fantastic place we all love, but for the council to play its role and continue to provide the level of service expected by ratepayers we will need additional income and make some changes to existing services. 

    We need your help doing that.

    Kind regards,

    Our current situation

    Based on Council’s performance against the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future financial indicator benchmarks for 2013/14, Council is financially unsustainable.

    The financial indicators demonstrate that Council needs to increase the level of funding it has committed to the renewal and maintenance of its building and infrastructure assets.

    The fact annual expenditure has been rising at a faster rate than income means it has become increasingly difficult to continue to maintain the activities and service levels to a standard to which the community has become accustomed. In order to continue with historical activities and service levels, Council has had to utilise existing financial reserves. This strategy cannot continue indefinitely.

    In addition, Council is now transitioning from a historically short-term financial focus to a long-term focus.

    This long-term focus means Council must now also consider funding whole-of-life costs including depreciation, which previously was only considered to be an external reporting non cash transaction.

    Clarence Valley Council, like most other NSW councils, is facing tough choices.

    Exactly like any household budget, we need to live within our means and consider short-term costs and future costs that occur due to the decisions we make today.

    It is not sufficient to just be able to maintain the community’s held assets. We need to be able to fund the future replacement of the assets as well.

    With our current and projected income, we cannot afford to continue to deliver current levels of service into the future or maintain the current $2 billion worth of infrastructure assets currently held at what is internally deemed to be an acceptable standard.

    What is financial sustainability?

    In March 2012, the Minister for Local Government announced the establishment of an Independent Local Government Review. Its role was to develop options to improve the strength and effectiveness of local government in NSW. Included in the Review Panel’s terms of reference were that the financial sustainability of each Local Government Area (LGA) was to be considered.

    Prior to this, in December 2011 the Division of Local Government (now the Office of Local Government {OLG}) engaged NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp) to help the OLG with the State Government’s Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme applications. With the announcement of the Local Government Review Panel it was decided to expand the scope of TCorp’s reports to incorporate additional material to facilitate use by the Review Panel, particularly in respect of the area of financial sustainability.

    In April 2013 the findings and recommendations of the TCorp’s reviews were published. The report included a financial sustainability ratings and outlook for all 152 NSW Councils.

    TCorp’s key tasks in undertaking its work included:

    •Creating a definition of “Sustainability”

    •Establishing a set of appropriate benchmark indicators

    •Developing an assessment methodology including a Financial Sustainability Rating scale (FSR) and outlook that could be used to compare Councils against a sustainability definition

    •Reviewing both historical financial results and the long-term (10 year) financial forecasts of each Council

    TCorp has defined financial sustainability in the following terms:

    “A local government will be financially sustainable over the long term when it is able to generate sufficient funds to provide the levels of service and infrastructure agreed with its community”

    The key findings from the TCorp review include that:

    •The majority of Councils are reporting operating deficits, with only one third of Councils recording a surplus in 2011/12.

    •Over the period 2008/09 to 2011/12, the cumulative operating deficits for all Councils totalled approximately $1 billion.

    •Councils' deteriorating financial performance has been occurring for some time and this has led to a gradual weakening of the local government sector.

    •If not corrected, this will lead to further deterioration of financial strength and ultimately a lower quality of assets and hence services that can be delivered by the sector.

    To address the expected continued deterioration, councils will require extensive consultation processes with the community to consider a combination of revenue increases, expenditure reductions and service level reviews.

    Clarence Valley Council was rated as having a weak financial sustainability rating (FSR), with a Negative Outlook.

    A council with a FSR rate lower than a moderate was assessed to be at a much greater risk of being unsustainable and, with an accompanying Negative Outlook, this position is not likely to change within the next three years.

    For councils assigned a Negative Outlook, TCorp has provided some recommendations and areas of investigations to assist in improving the sustainability position. The recommendations include:

    •The need to source additional revenue, such as under a Special Rate Variation (SRV), to improve financial flexibility and to assist in reducing the Infrastructure Backlog

    •For councils with the borrowing capacity, consider using debt funding to reduce the Infrastructure Backlog and improve intergenerational equity

    •Devising programs and strategies to contain rising costs and improve efficiencies

    •Further improvement required in Asset Management Plans (AMPs) and integration into the Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP)

    •Increasing spending on maintenance and infrastructure renewal, balancing this with the need for capital expenditure on new assets.

    Councils need to achieve at least a breakeven operating position on an ongoing basis. The future sustainability of councils is dependent upon generating sufficient funds to meet the costs of maintaining and renewing assets to deliver services. Councils, who have been operating with deficits and are forecasting to continue to do so, are not generating sufficient funds to continue providing services and renewing assets at their current levels. These councils need to develop options to correct this position. Such options will necessarily involve extensive consultation with their communities, and will need to consider options for revenue increases, reductions in expenditure, and reviews of existing service levels and standards. Surpluses generated by councils can be used to address their infrastructure backlogs.

    Current situation and how has this occured

    This situation has been created over several decades, primarily as a result of:

    •State Government ‘Rate Pegging’: legislation that has, over the past 30 years, meant increases in revenue have not kept pace with increases in Council costs or services provided. The impact on Clarence Valley Council of the “Rate Pegging” policy is shown in the graph below, which clearly shows Council’s income from rate revenue has not kept pace with Council’s rising costs.

    Since 1977, the regulation of Council rate in NSW has been largely based on an approach known as ‘rate pegging’. Under this approach, each year the NSW Government determined the maximum amount by which Councils could increase their annual general income or alternatively Councils could submit an application to seek a special variation to exceed this amount. From 2011-12 the responsibility for determining the annual rate peg has been delegated to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). Under this changed framework a new Local Government Cost Index has been established by IPART. This index, less a productivity coefficient forms the basis for the rate peg each year.

      Cost Shifting: Council is now responsible for more than $7 million in services that were previously the responsibility of State or Federal Government. These include:

      Contribution to Fire and Rescue NSW


      Contribution to NSW RFS


      Contribution to NSW SES


      Net Pensioner rate rebate


      Voluntary conservation agreements

      Net Public Library Costs



      On site sewerage costs

      Companion Animals Act admin



      Regulatory functions under EPA Act


      Noxious weeds control

      Rural Fires Act admin

      Food Safety Regulation

      Crime Prevention





      Community and Human Services


      Medical services

      Waste Levy



      STP Licence Fee


      Reduction in revenue from Crown Land


      Shortfall in Revenue for processing DA’s


      Educational Services






      • Community Expectations

      Council now delivers a wider range of services than it has in the past. It is imperative that when Council is making any decisions to add a service/activity that previously did not exist the whole-of-life costs have been considered and funding is available.

      •Historic understanding of depreciation expense and its impact on long-term financial sustainability.

      Prior to the Integrated Planning and Reporting reforms, depreciation was not considered a cost councils needed to fund. It was understood to be a non-cash reporting transaction only.

      The asset revaluation process that started in 2009 has seen major changes in the value of Council assets and annual depreciation charges. These impacts are also flowing through to future capital expenditure requirements and programs as Councils act on their improved understanding of asset values, maintenance and renewal costs.

      The treatment of depreciation expense remains a contentious issue amongst some councils. While this still remains a non-cash transaction, it is an important expense that represents the allocation of the value of an asset over its useful life. Without the recognition of the depreciating nature of assets and the need to cost the estimated annual use of that asset, Council accounts would not accurately reflect the true position of the asset base or accumulate the required funds to replace the asset at the end of its useful life.

      The annual maintenance indicated in the Asset Management Plans as required only allows the assets to achieve their estimated useful lives it does not stop the asset from depreciating. So, depreciation expense must be recognised as an additional expense, that if funded will ensure Council has the funds when required to replace the assets as and when they reach the end of their useful life.

      • Grant funding for new assets.

      Historically grant funding is usually only offered for the construction of new assets and does not cover the ongoing operation or maintenance of these. It is imperative that when submitting grant applications and before accepting any grant funds the whole-of-life costs have been considered and funding is available.

      • Developing Asset Management Plans

      Council has produced its second generation Asset Management Plans, which have indicated significant budget funding shortfalls for maintenance and renewal of assets. As these plans evolve and change so to will the LFTP.

      Council's financial sustainability challenge

      Council looks after around $2 billion worth of public assets. To give just a small example of what that relates to, we have to maintain over:

      •2,068 km of roads

      •7,700 drainage pipes and box culverts

      •285 bridges

      •93 km of footpaths and cycleways

      •other transport items such as car parks, traffic facilities, guardrail and road fencing, roadside furniture, street lights, signs, wharves/jetties and boat ramps, kerb and gutter and open drains

      •168 km of stormwater pipes and 6,100 pits

      •110 km of floodplain levees and other floodplain assets

      •regional airport and aerodrome

      •buildings, including 9 administration, 82 amenities, 3 cemeteries, 41 community halls and centres, 58 depots, 49 emergency services, 82 sporting, 3 community health centres, 11 cultural, 4 museums, 4 public libraries, 11 residential, 14 parks and reserves and 8 sheds

      •101 ha of open spaces, 209 ha of sportsgrounds, 194 ha of general community use, 573 ha of natural areas and 19 ha of cultural significance

      Over many years, funding for repair and renewal of this infrastructure has gradually been reduced to fund other operational expenditure. Continuation of this course of action will lead to the lowering in the quality of assets available and the related services they can deliver.

      The 2015-16 Asset Management Plans indicated that Council needed to spend an additional $21.8 million each year repairing and renewing its infrastructure ($4.6 million for the annual maintenance gap and $17.2m for the annual renewal gap) , just to keep pace with deterioration so it remains in a useable condition at what has internally been deemed an acceptable standard. The infrastructure backlog requiring renewal estimated as at June 2015 by asset group is:

      Council administers seven funds:




      •Clarence Coast Reserve Trust (CCRT)

      •Clarence Regional Library

      •Domestic Waste Services (DWMS)

      •Community Support Services (CSS)

      Over the past five years, the Operating Results per the Annual Financial Statements Income Statement which discloses external income and expenses only for each fund has been as follows deficits shown in brackets):

      Modelling of Council’s long-term financial position demonstrates that Council’s costs have and will continue to increase faster than our revenue (known as an “underlying operating deficit”). Anomalies can occur in the results due to operating grants being brought to account when they are received, which is not matched with the actual expenditure.

      The road to financial sustainability

      • April 2012 Council adopted a Strategic Organisational Action Plan 2012/2017. “This Strategic Organisational Action Plan (SOAP) has been designed to introduce new processes and change the way Council currently operates so as to transition the organisation towards its fundamental goal of sustainability and the overall meeting of its “Vision”. An updated SOAP document for the period 2015/2020 was adopted earlier this year.

      •May 2013 Council implemented a new organisational structure and since then has been continually reviewing the various sub-structures and service areas to identify opportunities for operational efficiencies.

      •March 2014 the Asset Management Strategy 2015 –2025 completed and is now under review.

      •March 2014 Community engagement process, which included random phone surveys, forums, workshops and listening posts. Council has now received input into the Community Strategic Plan from over 1,400 individuals in total.

      •2013-14 changed the General Fund historical reliance on loans being used to fund annual capital works program. The LTFP does not include any new loan funds for General Fund.

      •January 2014, starrted investigation and planning for the rationalisation of Council’s works depots and administration offices. Further rationalisation is planned for 2015/16.

      •June 2015, Expression of Interest started for the review of Council’s current light fleet and heavy plant operations. Council currently owns these assets and we will be looking at whether it would be more cost effective for Council to lease these assets.

      •2015/16, a strategic review of all services and service levels with reduction or elimination wherever possible and devising programs and strategies to contain rising costs and improve efficiencies resulting in a decrease in various operating costs. We also plan to review all Council land holdings including “Pocket Parks” in urban areas which may be surplus to our needs.

      2016/17, Council plans to review its on going support for the Voluntary House Raising Policy.

      Estimates, assumptions and forecasts

      All LTFPs must be based on a set of assumptions, which generally relate to those things that are most likely to affect the overall outcome of the LTFP. The following assumptions have been considered, discussed and ultimately used as a basis to forecast Council’s long term financial position over the 10-year plan.

      Scenario 1 Base Case – Continue down the same path

      This Scenario indicates the budgeted financial results if Council continues to operate on the same basis as it historically has without assuming any possible special rate variations above the Rate Peg limit, adjustments to service levels or rationalisation of services and assets

      From a strictly cash point of view this scenario indicates Council would have a budgeted General Fund net surplus over the next 10 years of $14.3m. These funds could be utilised to reduce the current infrastructure annual asset maintenance gap of $4.6m, annual infrastructure renewal gap of $17.2m or the Infrastructure backlog of $66m but clearly over the long term the council would remain financially unsustainable.

      Base Case Assumptions

      1.2015/16 budgets have been prepared based on Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB) methodologies whereby each budget amount was built from the ground up. All amounts included have been explained by relevant staff. Amounts were determined based on the same service level as budgeted for within the 2014/15 original budget, however only increased based on the other key assumptions mentioned below or by known factors that would directly impact on a service/ sub-service budget.

      2.Water charges have been indexed by 6.5% up until 2015/16 and then by 2.5% from 2016/17 through to 2024/25.

      3.Sewer charges have been indexed by 8.9% for 2015/16 and then by 2.5% from 2016/17 through to 2024/25.

      4.Domestic waste charges for 2015/16 have been kept at the same rate as 2014/15 charges. These charges have been calculated based on reasonable cost requirements and will indexed by 2.5% each year from 2016/17.

      5.Apply IPART Rate Peg Limit of 2.4% for 2015/16 and 2.5% from 2016/17 onwards.

      6.Employee award increases are from 1 July 2015 2.7% (2014 LG Award) and 2.8% from the 1 July 2016. 2.5% is assumed from 2017-18 onwards.

      7.The workers compensation premium has been based upon 3.5% of the estimated wages for 2015-16 assuming all positions on the organisation structure are filled. Indexed in line with employee award increases.

      The 2014-15 Premium indicated a Council overall average rate % on wages of 2.93% which resulted in a total premium amount Ex GST of $1,010,275.

      Any savings realised will be transferred to the smoothing reserve. Any additional costs will firstly be funded from the smoothing reserve. The limit to be set on the smoothing reserve to be $400K

      8.Superannuation - Employees are generally in either of two schemes being:

      •The Defined Benefits Scheme whereby Council must contribute $1.90 for every dollar the employee elects to contribute up to a maximum of 9% of their gross wage plus a basic benefits component of 2.5%. The rate assumed for 2015/16 is the current rate elected by the employee. An employee can elect to change their rate each year which comes into effect on the following April.

      •The Super Guarantee Scheme (SG) whereby Council is legislatively required to contribute 9.5% of the employee’s gross wage for 2015/16 (Super Guarantee Charge or SGC). Based on the new Federal law, the SGC will remain at 9.5% for seven years, increasing to 10% from July 2021, and eventually to 12% from July 2025.

      9.Leave entitlement accruals have been based on the assumption that all positions on the organisation structure are filled. The total accruals will then be offset by a credit of $500K based on the fact that Council’s employee long service obligations will be funded within council’s annual wages budget i.e. the budget allows for the full 52 weeks pa per employee.

      10.Similarly, staff employment costs have been offset by a credit of $200K (indexed in line with employee award increases) based on the assumption that not all positions are filled for the whole of the year.

      11.Insurance premiums have been index by 5%.

      Historically Council has received a rebate on its annual property insurance premium but as there is no guarantee that Council will receive this, no allowance for this is included in the original budget. If any amount is received it will be posted as a variation and general fund saving.

      Historically council has received a risk incentive bonus but as there is no guarantee that Council will receive this, no allowance for this is included in the original budget and any amount received will be transferred to a restricted reserve to be utilised on risk management issues.

      12.The Financial Assistance Grant will not be indexed until 2017-18.

      As part of the 2014/15 Federal Budget the Government announced that it “….will achieve savings of $925 million over four years by pausing indexation of the Local Government Financial Assistance Grants Programme for three years commencing 1 July 2014.” Accordingly, there will be no further adjustments to the overall national funding pool for CPI and population growth until the 2017/18 financial year.

      13.Fees and Charges have generally been indexed by 2.5%.

      14.Rural Fire Service (RFS) contributions set at a net cost of $365K.

      This contribution is difficult to predict as it is significantly impacted by natural disaster events and costs passed on by the NSW RFS. Based upon the last 5 years the average amount required would be $365K and it is proposed any variation to this be transferred to a Smoothing Reserve.

      15.State Emergency Services financial operational support and levies will be indexed 2.5% pa

      16.Tax equivalent dividends from Water and Sewer Fund based upon the maximum allowable rate of $3 per assessment.

      17.Dividends from other business to General Fund for 2015/16 included Regional Landfill $130K and Commercial Waste $44K.

      18.All positions on the adopted organisation structure to be funded unless otherwise indicated.

      19.Field staff on-cost recovery rate be set at based upon a full cost recovery

      20.Electricity prices are expected to reduce over the next four years as such the 2015/16 budgeted figures have been reduced by 10% from the 2014/15 budgeted figures. From 2016-17 no percentage increase has been applied through to 2018/19. From 2019/20 it has been assumed that prices will increase by CPI of 2.5%.

      21.Interest on Investment income has been left at a conservative rate of 2.9% per year, based on current returns and estimated balances held each year. Even if rates did rise above this other variables may result in internal reserves having to be further utilised to maintain the increase spending on asset maintenance and renewals

      While these assumptions provide a general guideline there are items in the budget that are predetermined, for example services that are subject to tender.

      What is included in your rates bill?

      Many people may not be aware of the variety of costs that go together to make their rates bill.

      For most properties in the Clarence Valley local government area, rates are made up of utility charges, a base charge and an valorem charge (ordinary rate). In some areas a minimum rate applies.

      Utility charges include such things as domestic waste collection services (garbage services), water and sewerage charges or on site effluent management charges. These are fixed charges and can only be used for the purpose for which they were collected.

      The base charge, as the name suggests, is a base amount that applies to properties within a rating category. That amount varies according to different rating categories across the local government area.

      The ad valorem component refers to a cost calculated by multiplying the

      unimproved capital value of your land (as determined by the NSW Valuer General) by a cents in the dollar figure. Like the base amount, this cents in the dollar figure varies across different locations in the local government area.

      The minimum rate affects properties in two of the five residential categories in the local government area and applies only when the ad valorem amount does not reach a minimum figure. The minimum rate included in the 2015/2016 rate structure might be replaced with a uniform base rate across the council area in the future.

      What does this means if a special rate rise is adopted?

      Council is considering applying for a general rate rise of 8% (including the estimated rate peg of 2.5%) a year for five years from July 1, 2016.

      It is important to remember the 8% increase applies only to the total ordinary rate and base charges.

      The rate increase would not apply to utility charges, which are calculated separately.

      For example, for the 2016/17 financial year it’s not expected service charges will rise more than the consumer price index (CPI). Charges for domestic waste collection for the 2015/16 financial year will not rise at all. It is expected charges for water and sewerage services will be able to be held at CPI levels for the foreseeable future.

      The tables below show the effect of an 8% rise in the general rate on average properties in Maclean/Townsend, Yamba and Grafton.

      How would any additional money raised from a rate rise be used?

      Roads. Well, almost that simple. If council does apply for and receives a rate increase above the pegged limit, all the additional money would be used to repair roads and road-related infrastructure, including bridges, culverts and drains. Nothing raised from a rate rise above the pegged limit would go towards other council projects or administration costs.

      In public consultation we conducted in late 2013 and early 2014 for the development of our 10-year strategic planning document, Our Community Plan, the strongest message we received was people wanted more money spent on roads and road infrastructure. Everything we have heard since suggests that is still the number one priority. We have heard you.

      The Clarence Valley Council has 2068 kilometres of roads. That’s more than the distance between Yamba and Cairns. About 983 kilometres of that road network, or about 45%, is unsealed. That road network also includes 283 bridges, 129 of which are timber and require regular maintenance. The remainder are concrete structures. We also maintain 378 kilometres of regional roads.

      We know our road network will deteriorate over time if it doesn’t get the maintenance it needs. Currently, because of insufficient funds, the road network is not getting the recommended maintenance. For example, sealed roads should really be sealed every 15 years – more often if they have high traffic counts. Our current funding only allows them to be re-sealed every 31 years. The same applies to unsealed roads. Currently we are only able to grade unsealed roads twice a year or four times a year for bus routes.

      Our network of bridges is ageing, with timber bridges in particular requiring more maintenance than we are currently able to provide.

      Any additional income from a rate rise over the pegged limit would help Council address the slow deterioration of the road network and associated infrastructure and, over time, provide Council with the funds for improvements.

      Road network at a glance

      1085 kilometres of sealed roads

      983 kilometres of unsealed roads

      378 kilometres of regional roads

      154 concrete bridges

      129 timber bridges

    Council's Discretionary Services

      Under-utilised caravan parks and camping facilities

      As reserve trust manager Council operates profitable holiday parks at Yamba, Iluka, Brooms Head, Minnie Water and Wooli.  The parks are supported by the local community and the general public.  Funding from the holiday parks is used to assist fund the maintenance of a network of coastal Crown reserves for which Council is trust manager. As reserve trust manager, Council operates a seasonal school holiday camping facility at Diggers Camp Reserve. 

      As reserve trust manager Council operates profitable holiday parks at Yamba, Iluka, Brooms Head, Minnie Water and Wooli. The parks are supported by the local community and the general public. Funding from the holiday parks is used to assist fund the maintenance of a network of coastal Crown reserves for which Council is trust manager.

      As reserve trust manager, Council operates a seasonal school holiday camping facility at Diggers Camp Reserve.

      Environmental sustainability services

      This program is self-funded from grants and the waste disposal externality levy. Sustainable services projects aim to abate the environmental and social impacts (direct and indirect) resulting from the delivery of waste management services including – 
      • installation of energy efficient lighting systems, solar power systems and upgrades to mechanical services that reduces operating and maintenance costs of Council buildings and facilities and also reduces our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels 
      • upgrading the Regional Landfill through projects such as gas capture and flaring that reduces our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Will also support future generation of electricity from landfill gas
      • new recycling initiatives for problem waste
      • supporting our street tree and riparian replacement program
      • providing funding for public place water fill stations
      • providing bicycle support and education programs
      • co-ordination and monitoring of Council’s response to climate change


      Council owns eight quarry sites.  Some of these sites are redundant and will be recommended for sale.  Other quarries provide material for Council to undertake road maintenance and capital works.  Council also operates quarries on private land through lease agreements.


      Council manages, operates and maintains 11 active cemeteries within the local government area including bookings, administration, burials, interments and maintenance activities.  There are two main cemeteries being the Clarence Lawn and Maclean Lawn cemeteries where most activity occurs.  There are about 220 burials/ash interments annually. There are also a number of historic cemeteries for which Council has some responsibilities.

      Grafton Airport operation and/or ownership

      Council owns and operates the Grafton (Clarence Valley Regional) Airport.  The airport supports a regular public transport service to Sydney.  The airport is also used as a base for fire fighting activities plus other ancillary services such as air ambulance.

      Grafton Regional Gallery

      The Grafton Regional Gallery is a cultural service of the Clarence Valley Council that is open to the public 10am to 4pm six days a week. The gallery presents exhibitions and events onsite and offsite for residents of and visitors to the Clarence Valley and develops and maintains a nationally-recognised collection. More than 40 exhibitions by local, regional and national artists are presented and more than 100 events are held to complement the exhibitions each year, develop the arts and culture in the Clarence Valley and support the students and artists of the region. The gallery’s collection, one of the largest collections of art on the North Coast of NSW, is accessible online. The gallery collects art of its region and contemporary Australian drawing actively through its flagship, the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA). 

      Mobile library services

      Is a vehicle designed, equipped and operated to extend and facilitate access to public library services to those people who do not have reasonably convenient access to a static public library. In rural communities, where population density is low and maintaining a permanent building would be uneconomic, mobile libraries fulfil a social need as a meeting place, and distribution point for local community information.

      South Grafton saleyards

      Council has resolved to seek expressions of interest to lease operate the South Grafton Saleyards.  In 2014-15 the saleyards had more than 50,000 head of cattle through the yards and is supported by the local agricultural industry. 

      Ulmarra Pool

      Ulmarra has an 18 metre pool that is used as a primary teaching and learn to swim pool.  The pool is supported by the local community.  The nearest alternate public pool is at South Grafton. 

      (at the end of current contract - due for review January 2017)

      Under-utilised public amenities

      Public amenities are predominately public toilets that are available for public use.  Council has a program to upgrade public amenities to ensure they meet all accessible standards and removing older toilets in inappropriate locations of poor design and construction that have been subject to vandalism. 

      Aquatic facilities

      Council operates six aquatic facilities. At Grafton Olympic Pool there is a 50 metre pool, slide and diving pool open from September/October to March/April. At South Grafton there’s the Boyd Nattrass pool - being an indoor heated 25metre pool - and hydrotherapy pool open all year. At Maclean there’s a 50 metre Olympic pool, slide and wading pool that open from September/October to March/April.  The Yamba community pool is a 25 metre outdoor heated pool that is open from August to June.  Glenreagh and Ulmarra each have an 18 metre pool that opens from September/October to March/April. 

      Under-utilised, unique or unusual sporting facilities

      Council has three indoor sports centres; one each in Grafton, Maclean and Yamba.  There is a network of sporting grounds across the Valley to cater for sports such as soccer, rugby league, rugby union, AFL, hockey, netball and cricket.  Council has a regional athletics facility at Barnier Park, Junction Hill, and nearby a criterion bicycle track. Other unique sporting facilities include the Coutts Crossing Croquet Court, the BMX facility at South Grafton, the Grafton pistol range, the Maclean Dirt Bike Club, the Grafton Motor Cycle Club.  Council operates squash facilities at Coutts Crossing, Waterview Heights and at Maclean Sports Centre and tennis facilities across the local government area.  Some of these are currently leased to community groups.

      Public halls

      There are 37 public halls that are available for the community to use for community events.  The use and condition of public halls varies across the local government area.   

      Sponsored events and festivals

      Many local events rely on sponsorship from Council, such as the Jacaranda Festival, Surfing the Coldstream, December Weekend of Rowing, Jacaranda Dragon Boat Day, Maclean Highland Gathering, Bridge to Bridge Ski Classic, Wooli Goanna Pulling; the list is long. Sponsorship needs to be delivered via a transparent, measurable and consistent process. This process is designed and managed by the economic development team.  The economic development team also manages the sports tourism initiative. Many high quality sporting events, such as the NSW Hockey State Championships, NSW State Longboard Titles, Yamba Triathlon, PGA Pro-Am Golf tournaments require sponsorship from Council. Without this sponsorship, the events would not come to the Clarence Valley.  The aim is to provide positive economic benefits to the Clarence Valley via the visitor economy. 

      Community centres

      Treelands Drive Community Centre provides the community with access to services and resources by offering up-to-date information and brochures on local and regional community services. The centre offers interview/consultation rooms as well as a range of rooms suitable for training, meetings or conferences for hire. It provides the community with access to printing, photocopying and faxing services and free access to computers/internet. The centre is utilised by a variety of groups especially ‘not for profit’ and support groups including: CWA, U3A classes, Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous, GROW, Breast Cancer and Carers Support Groups, various Aboriginal Support Services, Housing Service.  Other hirers of the centre include, Employment Agencies, Medical Services, Hearing Specialists and Psychologists.

      Grafton Community and Function Centre provides for hire a range of rooms suitable for training, meetings, conferences and expos. Three office spaces and a commercial kitchen are also available. Hirers include government agencies, real estate auctions, training companies, Weight Watchers, Legal Aid, Rehab Providers, Civil and Administration Tribunals, Family Relationship Centre, Stroke Support Group, churches.  Grafton Seniors has a permanent room to hold its weekly activities.

      Community care services not funded by other levels of government

      Council provides community aged and disability services. These are fully funded by users of the services (most of these services are funded by other levels of government).

      Library facilities and services

      Provides library services to the communities of the Clarence Valley; Grafton, Maclean, Iluka, Yamba and by the mobile library to villages. The library provides services, collections and programs that help build community cohesion, wellbeing and capacity and provides opportunities to connect to the community and the world.

      This is achieved through:

        Maximising community access to library services through locations, opening hours and web presence.

        Providing relevant, timely and up-to-date collections that meet community needs and demands.

        Providing relevant and contemporary targeted library services, programs and activities

        Delivering quality customer service

        Maintaining a library service that meets contemporary operational standards

        Safe, attractive and user-friendly library facilities

      Professional, experience and skilled staff

      Safe communities services

      Implementation of the Council Crime Prevention Strategy 2012-2017. The strategy outlines a number of crime category priorities and identifies local actions to be implemented.  Working collaboratively with government and non-government agencies and the community to provide strategic support, build partnerships  and implement community development initiatives  across a number of crime categories and committees including; domestic and family violence, alcohol related violence (liquor accords), Aboriginal community justice, Neighbourhood Watch, Police Aboriginal Advisory Committee, Clarence Valley Community Drug Action Team, malicious damage, property crime and alcohol and other drugs.  Emerging community safety issues are identified, strategies to support the local community are implemented in partnership;

        There’s no excuse for Domestic and Family Violence crisis cards and No Excuse for domestic and family violence coasters

        Aboriginal crime stopper posters and fridge magnets

        Community crystal methamphetamine  information sessions

        It’s Your Choice, Drink Smart

        Report It Don’t Ignore It

        Aboriginal Girls Recidivisms workshops

      Parenting Festival

      Ageing and access services

      Provide community support to older people and people with a disability. Develop disability inclusion action plan, mobility maps, International Day of People With Disability events, missed business campaign; provide input to Council on issues relating to access through the Clarence Valley Access Committees. Advocate for age-friendly communities and health services for people with disability and older people, co-ordinate and promote Seniors Week events, provide information to older people and people with a disability through expos, brochures, workshops, raise awareness of the abuse of older people. Leadership and partnership development with State and Federal government agencies, service providers and community to identify and address local gaps in service and project provision. Provide feedback to State and Federal Government on the impact of reforms to disability care (National Disability Insurance Scheme) and aged care (Home Care, Commonwealth Home Support Program, My Aged Care Portal). Development of “Be Fit – For You” health program.

      Youth services

      Provision of services and programs to young people that promote social inclusion and positive community participation including Out of the Box, National Youth Week, youth advisory committee, skills development and leadership workshops and youth led activities and events. Ensure young people have a voice in relation to Council planning. Provide leadership and coordination role in relation to the youth services sector in the Valley through the provision of the Clarence Valley Youth Interagency. Develop partnership projects and initiatives within the youth sector that aim to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of young people. Provide input and advice to State and Federal government agencies to ensure the needs of young people living in the Clarence Valley are understood and planned for.

      Community development services

      Provision of community support and donations, sports and cultural trust programs. Leadership and partnership development with State and Federal government agencies, service providers and the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community to identify and address local gaps in service and project provision. Provision of high quality social and cultural development activities including plunge, Parenting Festival and community directory. Consultation and participation with local inter-agencies to ensure reduced incidence of duplication of services and open and transparent sharing of information across the community sector.  Provision of advice and advocacy in State and Federal government planning and projects.   

      Natural resource management services

      The implementation of natural resource management principles (NRM) aims to strike a balance between the use of our natural assets (soil, water, land, vegetation) and long-term sustainability.

      The key NRM areas Council is involved in are:

        Protect and maintain our waterways, catchments and floodplain (protect water supply catchment and Shannon Creek Dam, improve population health, reduce impact of flooding and support key industries such as tourism, fishing and farming).

        Support volunteers including floodplain drain operators and Landcare and Dunecare groups

        Bushfire management and hazard reduction.

        Environmental assessment of development including Council’s works.

        Control invasive weeds and pest species

        Manage our coastline and balance utilisation with conservation

        Conserve our natural flora and fauna and their habitats

        Support productive agriculture enterprise and facilitate sustainable and innovative agricultural practices via mechanisms such as the floodplain partnership

        Raise community awareness of NRM issues

        Apply for and manage grant funded projects that funds more than half the Council’s NRM activities.

      Economic services and economic development or promotion services

      The economic development team coordinates and implements projects to attract visitors, industry,  investment and create jobs.  Its focus is on destination development, investment attraction, industry development as well as events and festival development and sponsorship.  Example of projects; Clarence Roundtable, economic monitoring, liaising with relocating companies, relocation guide – Clarence Living, street banners, marine and engineering cluster, sugar and timber industry prospectuses, liaising and referrals to State and Federal agencies and programs, Clarence River Way, grant funding for new pontoons and boating facilities, industrial lands strategy, Skinner Street streetscape plan, Grafton waterfront precinct plan, Maclean riverside precinct plan, community economic development programs, Grafton heritage trail, Aboriginal town signage, development of canoe and kayak trail and primitive camp grounds, small business skills development, Smart Economy program, business networking and award sponsorship, Australia Day awards and barbecue program, Clarence Valley ambassador program.

      Tourism services and tourism promotion

      Frontline visitor information services are provided at two locations – South Grafton and Ferry Park, Maclean – 9am-5pm, seven days a week providing general and targeted information on local attractions and accommodation, as well as for about 80 other regions.  Local products and souvenirs are retailed at South Grafton.  The service undertakes general marketing and promotion of the area through a variety of print and electronic media and through collaborative marketing campaigns with regional and state tourism providers.  Building closer relationships and local industry development is undertaken through the Clarence Valley Tourism Advisory Committee, industry cluster and through direct liaison and targeted skills development programs.