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Port Stephens Council commits to driving long term financial sustainability

Port Stephens Councils’ ongoing commitment to securing long term financial sustainability has been given further support with Councillors endorsing a recommendation to commence the conversation with the community.


This decision builds on the October 2021 resolution to implement a range of key directions aimed at improving Council’s long term financial position.

General Manager Wayne Wallis said this is an important step forward for the Port Stephens community.

“Like many government and non-government organisations, the last two years of COVID-19 impacts have taken their toll,” Mr Wallis said.

“Income from our holiday parks, childcare centres and the Newcastle Airport was cut, while at the same time, construction, transport and insurance costs have continued to increase.

“These impacts are further exacerbated by the natural disasters over the last couple of years,” he added.

Rate capping is also impacting the long term financial sustainability of Port Stephens Council with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) setting a maximum rate increase of 2.5% – well below the forecasted CPI increase currently at 5.1%.

“Management and staff at Council have worked to absorb these losses and reduce costs, seeing an expected $4.4 million deficit move to a modest surplus of $583,000 – but this can only go on for so long,” Mr Wallis said.

“We need to work together with the community to find the best possible solutions to ensure Port Stephens Council remains financially sustainable for the long term.

“With a new Council in place, we need to look at how we do business, where we can improve our revenues, find savings and how we can ensure financial sustainability for the residents of Port Stephens well into the future,” he added.

Port Stephens Council Corporate Services Group Manager Tim Crosdale said while Council has continued to make cost savings year on year, the cumulative impacts of the past two years require a new approach.

“We know COVID-19 isn’t over and other economic factors such as rising cost of materials and inflation continue to have flow on effects, so it’s important we take steps now to ensure Council is financially sustainable in the long term.

“This may include reducing service delivery, increasing fees and charges, a special rate variation or investigating new revenue streams – it’s all on the table.

“Port Stephens has one of the lowest rate bases in the region. Changes to our rate revenue is definitely an option but if our community wants to keep rates low, we need to understand what services our community is prepared to see reduced into the future.

“This resolution from Council allows us to start the conversation with our community, ensure they understand the current position of Council and are given a genuine ability to participate in the decision making process.

“Council staff will work closely with our community to investigate all options and come up with a list of recommendations that strike a balance between the needs of our community and Council’s financial future,” he added.

Over the next few weeks, Council will provide the community with detailed information on how they can get involved with formal engagement beginning on the 18 July.

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