Cessnock City Council makes significant savings under Financial Sustainability Initiative

INITIATIVE: Cessnock City Council's director of works and infrastructure, Justin Fitzpatrick-Barr; special projects officer, Michelle Lindsay; Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent and staff from the Cessnock Waste Management Centre.
INITIATIVE: Cessnock City Council's director of works and infrastructure, Justin Fitzpatrick-Barr; special projects officer, Michelle Lindsay; Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent and staff from the Cessnock Waste Management Centre.

Cessnock City Council has made significant savings under its Financial Sustainability Initiative, including $2.4 million on one project.

The initiative - introduced in 2015 - is aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of council's operations through identifying projects that focus on four key objectives: being to reduce costs, increase revenues, improve value-for-money and strengthen council's governance framework.

Council's director of works and infrastructure, Justin Fitzpatrick-Barr said this initiative has brought about significant changes in the way the council operates, allowing it to achieve more within existing budget allocations.

"It's about continuously examining the way we do things and looking for potential opportunities to bring about positive change," Mr Fitzpatrick-Barr said.

"The results have been outstanding."

Through this initiative, council reduced its annual NSW State Waste Levy liability at the Cessnock Waste Management Centre by $2.4 million in the 2019 financial year.

"Council identified an opportunity to make operational changes that would increase recycling and divert material from landfill," Mr Fitzpatrick-Barr said.

"This lowered the amount of waste going into landfill, all of which attracts the Waste Levy.

"This project has been a huge success, not only has it lowered the NSW State Waste Levy cost, it has lowered the local impact on our environment and afforded valuable employment opportunities."

Council has also made savings by changing the way it manages plant and fleet. Following a review of an existing process, council has realised cost savings in the order of $310,000 per year in relation to the hiring of heavy plant and equipment. This project has also provided two new full-time jobs.

A number of projects are currently being progressed under this initiative, including reviews of council's service, strategic property, fees and charges, procurement and rating structure. The implementation of these projects is currently being managed and monitored through council's Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework.

Under the service review, improvement projects including rural road maintenance, landfill operations and Cessnock and Branxton pools were identified.

Council resolved in June 2019 that any actual savings greater than $1000 from the Financial Sustainability Initiative would be put into its roads maintenance budget.