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Ask the CEO

22nd October 2020
CEO Nigel Morris answers questions submitted through our newsletter In The Loop!

Ask the CEO (Nigel Morris)

October 2020

Q: Can you give me an update on the three-story half built house on Gold Coast Drive Carrickalinga? - Karen

The current structure was deemed to be built too high and there is currently an outstanding court order that requires the height of the building to be lowered.  There was previously a planning application lodged to lower the building to the correct height and although this application was previously extended it has now lapsed. Council did not approve a further extension to this application and this decision has been appealed in Environment, Resources & Development Court and is currently in process. There is also an application to demolish the building, this application remains active and can be enacted upon by the applicant at any time.  We will provide a further update once the most recent appeal before the Court has been finalised.

Q. Does a register exist of significant trees in the Rapid Bay Area?, If so can I please access it? - Sia

The Council does not have a register of individual trees, located in the District. Trees are collectively managed in our District by the requirements of:

  • The Native Vegetation Act (administered by State Government) sets out the requirements in relation to the preservation, enhancement and clearance of native vegetation in the District both on private property and in public areas.
  • Council’s Tree Management Policy which provides the requirements for the management of all trees under the care, control and management of the Council (i.e. located on public roads and reserve areas).

Q.What is the update on the Rapid Bay bridge construction? - Sia

The designs for the new raised bridge at Rapid Bay have been completed and the project is currently out to tender. It is envisaged that on-site works will commence in early 2021 following the summer school holidays.

The new bridge will be located immediately upstream of the existing crossing, which is to remain in place, during the construction process, to maintain vehicular access.

Council recently received $297,000 Federal Funding to fund 50% of the bridge.  This will greatly assist with the project.

Q. Is there a possibility of reopening the presently closed road through Croziers property to the Rapid Bay township? As I am led to believe it is closed due to damaged bridge. Reconstruction of the bridge or replacing it with a walk bridge would improve access and enjoyment of Rapid Bay. - Sia

Given its condition the old bridge was previously closed to traffic. Engineering assessments have recommended it not be opened for pedestrian movement, as the remedial work to revitalise the bridge would not be a cost-effective exercise.

To provide a new bridge at this location could cost $200,000 to $300,000 for a pedestrian only bridge or approximately $800,000 for a vehicle bridge.

The new bridge at the foreshore is being raised to provide suitable protection from flood inundation, it will also include a separated pedestrian walkway. Once this work is complete it will provide the campground, oval, school and residents with suitable vehicle and pedestrian access, without the need to provide a duplicate access to the location.

Q. Is the council aware that a public announcement is imminent regarding the Main South Road and Willis Drive intersection at Normanville and that it is to be upgraded? I have been advised that things are in motion for a change to the intersection and I will be notified of the announcement soon. - Des

The Main South Road and Williss Drive intersection is on a State Government Road.  Council has been advocating for improved safety and traffic flow at the intersection for a number of years. The State Government have advised us that they will continue to investigate Council’s and the community concerns but are yet to provide formal advice on what may happen at the intersection.  We will advise if any announcements are received.

Q. Is it correct for the mayor to say in the council newsletter that the council is creating "Community Titles" on the foreshore and caravan park?

Is council only classifying the titles as community land and not making community titles and could this be corrected in the next newsletter? There is a major difference between the two terms community land and community title. - Des

For clarification, the land on the foreshore should be referred to as Community Land.

Community titles are used to describe a form of property ownership that has been divided into at least two lots and have shared common property.

Under the Local Government Act, all Council land is classified as community land unless an exclusion applies, this means that all land (unless an exclusion applies) should be referred to community classified land and not community titled land.

All of Council’s Community Land is detailed within the Community Land Management Plan (CLMP) found on Council’s website.

September 2020

Q. Isn't it a fact that the council's revenue would increase if all rates were paid annually, rather than in quarterly amounts? I'm not asking for the quarterly payment provision to be scrapped, but why not encourage annual payments by running a simple competition? All those who make an annual payment go into a draw where one winner has their rates refunded. - Don

What an interesting idea and this certainly got us thinking. The benefit that Council would receive with additional upfront payments would be that additional funds would be available to offset borrowings, money would sit in the bank longer and therefore Council would pay less interest. On receipt of your question, we analysed our current payments and found that at present 27% of rates are paid at least a month early. We also calculated that for every $1,000,000 of rates received a month early we would be $1,833 better off for that month (not paying 2.2%, our approximate funding cost). We also did an approximate calculation that if an additional 55 ratepayers paid in full at the September quarter instead of paying over the four quarters that with funding costs saved this would equal approximately one ratepayer's rates.

We had an interesting debate internally over would a competition to refund one ratepayer's rates entice 55 additional ratepayers to pay upfront. The end result was that we believe your idea is certainly worth a try and we will be recommending to Council in the adoption of the 2021/22 Annual Business Plan and Budget that we run your suggested competition and analyse the results prior to the next year.

I thank you for your question.

Q. I would like to know why you put rates up as I know for a fact that the City of Onkaparinga has implemented a number of relief measures during COVID-19 to support the community, which was a zero percent rate revenue increase to council rates in 2020/21, plus no interest or fines charged on rates until 1 November. With the CPI being negative and the Government asking Councils to help residents/businesses in these tough times I think the Council should help all in the community, so the town can survive this virus and loss of tourists. - Amanda

Each Council has dealt with the balancing act of rates increases, rates relief, stimulus projects, service levels, loss of income (e.g. caravan parks), level of borrowings, and surplus vs. deficits in different ways.

Our Elected Member decision-makers determined for the 2020/21 budget that the average rates increase would be 1.05% (half the quoted CPI at the time). The budget also included COVID funding to assist businesses and continued the COVID rates relief previously adopted as follows:

  • To remit fines and interest chargeable on overdue rates for the period of 1 April 2020 to 31 August 2020.
  • To extend the due date on rental/lease payments charged by Council on their properties to 31 August 2020.
  • To expedite the payment of invoices to assist with business cash flow.
  • To suspend legal actions taken to recover overdue payments until at least 31 August 2020.
  • To provide a refund on outdoor dining leases on the disused period due to COVID-19.
  • To promote the rates relief options to the Community.

Council discussed a zero percent increase but felt it was important to not only address the immediate need but to also plan for the long-term future that would best place the community to survive. The adoption of an increase, half that of CPI, enabled Council to reduce the sudden impact and to bring forward and plan major projects to help stimulate the economy as the other tiers of governments were calling for not only the current year but for future years. The long term financial plan determined that anything less than the 1.05% increase in year 1 would increase borrowings and deficits to uncomfortable levels in future years and making it difficult to deliver projects designed to help in the survival and recovery stages. Council took a long-term approach in the setting of the rates for 2020/21.

We encourage any ratepayer experiencing difficulty with their rates to come and discuss with our Finance Team to see what arrangements can be put in place.

Q. Do you intend to liaise with the Carrickalinga Ratepayers Association about getting involved in a rabbit control program? - David

We would be happy to engage with the Carrickalinga Community on the program. I will contact the Carrickalinga Ratepayers Association to arrange.

Fact or Fiction

If you drop food it is OK to eat if you pick it up before 5 seconds?

FICTION - Bacteria doesn’t politely wait 5 seconds to contaminate food dropped on the floor. Your floor will be contaminated from dirty shoes, by pets walking through, and general day-to-day life. A UK study found fewer bacteria on carpets than smooth floor surfaces (but you don’t want to end up eating bits of carpet fluff on your food either).