Kempsey Shire Council Annual Report 2015-16
and General Purpose Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2016

Kempsey Shire Council, November 2016


Cover of Kempsey Shire Council Annual Report 2014-15

Message from the Mayor and General Manager

The 2015/16 year has been one of consolidation and growth for Kempsey Shire Council. Key to this has been developing a sense of pride in our Shire as a vibrant and safe community, as we are no longer defined by a highway through our major town.

The Pacific Highway Bypass of Kempsey provided Council and the region with an opportunity to reinvent itself, and we have leveraged this with a range of projects, developments and initiatives focused on our core values of creating a community that is Healthy, Wealthy, Safe and Sociable.

The completion in March 2016 of the $3.6 million Smith Street upgrade – the first major project of the Kempsey Corridor Master Plan – designed to stimulate the local economy while creating an appealing ‘village-feel’, has transformed our CBD into a flourishing and inviting business hub. Results of a survey to measure business confidence and success have been positive. In October 2015, 37% of businesses reported their revenue had increased since 2014, with 67% stating their business confidence was good or very good.

There are significant challenges in managing a finite budget against a growing list of services and more than $1 billion of assets that need maintaining and upgrading. Council has achieved strong operational and financial performance in delivering on the objectives set out in our Operational and Delivery Plans. Our Auditor’s Report confirmed that we achieved improved results in most key financial performance areas, the outcome of sound financial short-term and long-term strategies put in place over the past four years. Council achieved a budget surplus of just over $2 million in the general fund for 2015-2016, which will be reinvested into ongoing operations and asset renewal. The funds for water and sewer have shown a deficit which were expected, and strategies are in place to resolve these issues. Our overall financial results have been achieved by a strategy of reducing costs through efficiency savings, increasing income with the special rate variation, and reducing Council’s level of debt, so that more can be spent on maintaining our assets, such as roads and bridges.

The benefits of an increased investment in our roads, around $9 million for 2015-16, continues to strengthen our aged and extensive road network, while striving to deliver on community expectations. A number of significant transport network improvements, in both rural and urban areas, were completed around the Shire. These were funded through a combination of Black Spot and Roads to Recovery Programs, Federal and State Government funding, and Council’s funds. This includes nearly 12 kilometres of regional rural access roads, with major projects being sections of Armidale Road and South West Rocks Road. To improve driving conditions within rural areas, Council replenished 24 kilometres of gravel surfaces, a 25% increase on the previous year at a cost of nearly $1 million.

Over the past year, Council invested around $400,000 in a program to replace, refurbish and repair bridges around the Shire to prolong the life of assets critical to an agricultural community. Major projects included McCudden’s Bridge, Gills Gully Bridge, Pee Dee Road and Yellow Gully. In May 2016, the installation of a $1 million upgrade to the telemetry control system that assists Council monitor and control its water and sewerage infrastructure has delivered substantial improvements in response times and system efficiency. Council’s Mobile Community Recycling Centre was a first for NSW and a finalist in the 2015 Green Globe Awards, and one of many initiatives Council has introduced to help the environment and reduce waste management costs.

Completed during the year were infrastructure improvement projects that have increased the access and enjoyment in some of our best-loved locations. In South West Rocks, the 130-metre elevated walkway around Point Briner has created a pedestrian link along the picturesque and historic headland. The transformation of Riverside Park showed what can be achieved when our whole community gets behind a worthwhile cause. Through the generosity and hard work of businesses, contractors, community groups and residents who volunteered their time and services, the $284,000 project refreshed one of the Macleay’s most beautiful and important social hubs.

In April, Council’s Customer Satisfaction Survey results showed we scored well in delivering community services and how we manage our facilities, but our performance in handling customer enquiries has slipped. Public safety and the condition of our roads topped the list of concerns for those surveyed. We used the data captured in the survey to target areas that need improvement across the organisation.

Along with inclusive opportunities such as workshops, art installations and community events, Council worked collaboratively with government agencies, community groups, businesses and residents in helping building a safe, sociable and supportive community. An active library service, including the home lending service supported by Kempsey West Rotary, is a practical and ongoing service to promote literacy and community connection for people of all ages in our Shire.

Made possible by NSW Government grant funding, in June 2016 the Voluntary House Raising Scheme commenced which enables eligible homeowners in flood-prone areas to raise their property to safe heights. Council worked collaboratively with Emergency Service crews to provide a swift response to damage caused by a major storm surge in June, including repairs completed within four days to Killick Creek footbridge washed away in the storm. Initiatives such as the installation of CCTV cameras in the Kempsey CBD, attending Police Community Meetings, and a proactive Community Resilience Program to prepare for flood and natural disasters, helped promote safety and security in our local area.

With Council’s ongoing drive to improve productivity and a safe working environment, staff participated in 7,440 hours of training and conferences, including tertiary sponsored studies. A special focus over the past year has been on increasing the skills of supervisory staff in managing a safe workplace. Complementing this, Council’s proactive injury management programs have seen a reduction of 15.6% for the Delivery Plan period 2012-16 on the previous period.

To grow and strengthen our economy, Council looked for new ways to generate development and jobs growth within the Macleay Valley. In February, as part Council’s strategy to highlight the Macleay as a top tourism destination, Council hosted the NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships at South West Rocks, bringing around 4,000 visitors and injecting $3 million into the local economy. In June, Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian International Aviation College, paving the way for a $7 million investment in a flight training school at Kempsey Airport. Council’s Macleay Valley Food Bowl strategy continues to successfully promote the Macleay’s agribusiness opportunities and has contributed to an additional 180 jobs in the agricultural sector.

We are pleased to present this year’s Annual Report, and the strong results demonstrate the commitment by Council’s management team, staff and Councillors to deliver quality facilities and services to our local communities. We are confident Council has built a solid foundation for the challenges we face. We understand the responsibility we hold in delivering the essential services and facilities we provide to the Macleay Valley community now and for the years ahead.