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Councillor Column – 12 December 2023 – Councillor Greg Armstrong

Dec 15, 2023

For Immediate Release 12 December 2023
Authorised by Councillor Greg Armstrong

The recent defeat of a proposal to seek a Special Rate Variation (SRV) of over 100% was a testament to the broad lack of community support for such a proposal. One can only hope that any Hilltops Councillor who had originally warmed to the idea of the SRV is now under no false impression that people would be accepting of a massive increase in the general rate for no commensurate increase in services or service levels.

However, it must be recognised that the level of General Fund operating deficit is such that there will be no single fix that will magically bring the deficit back to a level that is acceptable to both Council and the community.

Councillors must not dismiss this as an accounting exercise that will be managed by staff, if it were that simple then we would not be in the position that we are.

Councillors must “have some skin in the game” and actively engage in the decisions that will have an impact on curbing the deficit.

For Councillors, the decision making process is often made more difficult because of consequential impacts. Hard decisions are those which may bring about a long-term benefit but can cause short-term pain. Hard decisions do not make you popular, but they make you accountable.

For Hilltops Council, there will most likely be increases in user fees and charges. It is highly probable that some service levels will be reduced or capped in an effort to reduce or contain costs. Some operational assets such as houses and commercial properties may be re- cycled through sale and hopefully, have the proceeds re-invested in the community that funded the original asset.

Waste and excess expenditure must be identified and reduced to ensure that the Council receives the maximum value for its dollars.

New and alternate income streams will need to be investigated and pursued where Council has the capacity to pursue such opportunities. Notably, Council has already re-established a contractor relationship with Transport for NSW which generates significant General Fund revenues.

So, as the year draws to an end, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for keeping abreast of the issues impacting Council as these are the issues that will ultimately impact on the community.

Have a safe, and merry Christmas, enjoy the holidays and stay well.

Greg Armstrong

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