Land Reclassification And SRV Update

Murray River Council

Murray River Council have resolved to rescind a previous resolution seeking to reclassify 18 parcels of Council-owned land from ‘community land’ to ‘operational land’.

This follows a resolution at last month’s council meeting to submit the list to the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI), which then prompted wide-spread community concerns about the proposal and the possibility of sale of the spaces in the future.

Mayor, Frank Crawley said Council have taken on the feedback from the community.

“There has been a lot of local discussion about the value of green space across the area.”

“As such, Council have listened to the community and decided to remove all 18 open spaces listed as surplus from the reclassification project list.”

“This will no longer progress any further,” he said.

The land classification project followed-on from the ‘Needs and Demands Assessment’ that was undertaken to better-understand the current and future usage requirements of Council-owned assets, including open spaces.

This formed part of a larger-scale project for the council in the aim of addressing longer-term financial sustainability issues.

Through the process 412 parcels of land were assessed, with 18 parcels initially being identified to proceed to the reclassification process, with the majority of these being in Moama.

In Moama in particular the assessment found that there are many facilities in close proximity to one another as subdivisions continue to develop, which subsequently increases maintenance needs in a concentrated area.

“This is a common dilemma faced by Councils with high growth rates; when there are a number of parks and open spaces within close proximity to each other our effort is duplicated in both time and costs when maintaining these areas,” Cr Crawley said.

“However, the community have been loud and clear that they value much of this green space and don’t want to see any type of reductions, so we have taken this on board.”

“We will now however have the challenge of finding funds in future budget processes to offset the costs of future maintenance levels at these spaces,” he said.

Following the resolution to rescind the reclassifications list, Mayor Crawley also presented a Mayoral Minute to commence investigation into a Special Rates Variation (SRV).

“Council is now at a point were where need to actively consider the possibility of applying for a Special Rate Variation to address pressing financial challenges,” Cr Crawley said.

An SRV would allow the council to raise rates above the annual rate peg increase, a limit set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

“Our council, like many in New South Wales, has been grappling with increasing financial sustainability issues in recent years, compounded by factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, floods, rate-pegs and high inflation rates.”

“In response to this, we’ve already implemented various measures to generate operational savings, including optimising our yellow fleet, reducing power consumption, trimming maintenance where possible, eliminating cross-subsidy of our water and sewer, sale of council-owned residences and streamlining our workforce.”

“Now with the recent push-back around a proposed reduction of service to parks and open spaces, Council must look to further options to maintain the assets the community value,” he said.

The motion put forward at the council meeting is to progress with consultation around a potential SRV, with conversations likely to commence in early 2025.

“At this stage, this is only conversations with the community, to look at various income options to ensure we can maintain our services and to gauge the community’s thoughts around this,” Cr Crawley said.

If an SRV application was successful it would come into effect in the 2026/27 financial year.

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