Report card no biggie for local councils

Managers of local councils around Lismore were unfazed by the NSW Governments latest report card on their councils performance.

The NSW councils comparative-data report for 2004-05 compiled by the Department of Local Government released at the beginning of the year shows Byron Shire Council continuing its reputation among Northern Rivers councils of taking the longest time to process development applications (DAs).

DAs lodged with Byron Shire took an average of 85 days compared with Ballina Shire (41 days), Lismore City (25 days), Richmond Valley (34 days) and Kyogle (28 days).

Of the states 152 councils, Strathfield in Sydney had the highest average turnaround for DAs at 119 days while Glen Innes had the lowest at 0.26 days.

The 250-page report also gives comparative data on a range of local government functions and charges such as average rate per assessment, domestic water charges, waste collection and legal costs.

Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Kyogle councils spent well below the state average of $284,160 on legal costs associated with planning and development (see fact box below) compared to Byron Shire Council ($434,000) and Ku-Ring-Gai Council, which had the highest legal costs in the state at $1.879 million.

The NSW Opposition has announced it will abandon the council reporting scheme if it wins power in the March election with shadow minister for Local Government John Turner saying the only apparent use was to use it as a political weapon to attack local councils.

Mr Turner said the government used the system to name and shame councils with no consideration for the special and unique factors of various councils such as economic and social factors, isolation and special community needs.

He said the report was based on data that was over two years old and bore little relevance to a councils present position.

Mr Turner said a Coalition Government would introduce a local government reporting system that would guarantee greater transparency and help councils identify services and areas that needed improvement.

Lismore City

* Average residential rates per household in 2004-05 $768.59 ($752.14 in 2003-04)

*Waste charges per household $134.34 ($114.28)

* Money spent on community services per person in electorate $31.85 ($30.22)

* Money spent on legal expenses $62,000, or 2.85 per cent of total planning and development costs

Ballina Shire

* Average residential rates per household in 2004-05 $516.17 ($509.27in 2003-04)

*Waste charges per household $147.38 ($131.63)

* Money spent on community services per person in electorate $3.14 ($2.22 in 2003-04)

* Money spent on legal expenses $180,000, or 7.89 per cent of total planning and development costs

Richmond Valley

* Average residential rates per household in 2004-05 $423.52 ($387.02 in 2003-04)

*Waste charges per household $174.35 ($188.62)

* Money spent on community services per person in electorate $71.36 ($62.07 in 2003-04)

* Money spent on legal expenses $143,000, or 8.81 per cent of total planning and development costs

Kyogle

* Average residential rates per household in 2004-05 $497.18 ($449.67 in 2003-04)

*Waste charges per household $261.58 ($228.40)

* Money spent on community services per person in electorate $9.87 ($7.55 in 2003-04)

* Money spent on legal expenses $15,000, or 6.64 per cent of total planning and development costs


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