Council releases its annual report for 2018-2019
Blue Mountains City Council has recorded a significant year of achievements in its most recent Annual Report.
We spent more than $125 million in 2018-2019 on delivering an extensive range of services, facilities, projects and initiatives to maintain and improve the quality of life in the City of Blue Mountains, and was nationally recognised as a leader in high quality customer service within the local government sector.
“Key achievements in 2018-2019 include completing 90% of Operational Plan actions and meeting 92% of Fit for the Future Action Plan milestones,” Blue Mountains City Council Chief Executive Officer Dr Rosemary Dillon said.
“The Annual Report 2018-2019 confirms that Council’s financial position is sound, achieving a surplus net operating result (including capital grants) of $2.8 million in 2018-2019, and further reduced debt to a level of $28.5 million.”
Some of our highlights include:
- We exceeded our reduction targets for carbon emissions. As a Cities Powers Partnership member we adopted pledges including to install renewable energy in Council buildings; adopt best practice energy efficiency measures across all Council buildings; roll out energy efficient lighting across the LGA; and encourage sustainable transport use.
- In February 2019 our Council declared a climate emergency – formally recognising that we are in a climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government. We were the 11th council in Australia to do so.
- We strengthened and improved our emergency preparedness working closely with member agencies of the Bush fire management committee – on fire trail renewal and upgrade work. We maintained and enhanced our Asset Protection Zones working on 106 sites across the City reducing bushfire risk for 471 homes.
- In 2018-2019, our Customer Contact Centre received almost 73,000 calls and served almost 60,000 customers.
- We emptied 1.8 million red bins from about 30,000 household each week and picked up 12,953 booked waste collections.
- We launched our The Compost Hub Program reducing our waste to landfill.
- We repaired and upgraded the City’s roads. This including laying 70,000 m2 of new asphalt surface or about 11km of road length.
- We repaired over 1500m2 of our 178kms of footpaths.
- We patched nearly 8500m2 on our 693kms of sealed roads.
- We graded an area of about 42,000m2 on over 75km of unsealed roads.
- We repaired, replaced and installed nearly 800 signs – noting that we have over 8500 road signs in the LGA.
- We planned for our pedestrian and cycling infrastructure – reviewing our Active Transport planning framework to guide the development and improvement of the City’s footpath and shared path network and help us prioritise works in the future.
- We sought feedback from the community on where footpaths, shared paths, bike routes and accessibility could be improved.
- We upgraded 24 bus stops to improve accessibility to public transport for people with disabilities and for our aged population. Priority was given to bus stops identified in our Active Transport review.
- We supported and implemented a range of road safety initiatives. We offered a range of driver safety programs targeting seniors, learner drivers and child restraints and provided bike skill sessions for kids.
- We received $15 million in grant funding from the Western Sydney City Deal – and commenced work on delivering a range of projects over three years including:
- Upgrades of four District Parks in Glenbrook, Springwood, Wentworth Falls and Blackheath.
- Rejuvenation of Blackheath and Springwood town centres.
- Upgrade to the Springwood library including a new library layout and improved accessibility.
- Development of accessible pathways and upgraded walking tracks and lookouts and improved signage in the Scenic Eastern Escarpment and
- Development of a fenced dog off-leash area, a loop pathway restored riparian corridors and enhanced natural and picnic areas at the former Lawson golf course.\
- We progressed work and community engagement in 2018-2019 on the development of a 20-year vision for land use in the Blue Mountains – our Local Strategic Planning statement.
- We completed a remarkable environmental restoration project at Popes Glen in Blackheath. Working closely with the Popes Glen Bushcare group over a six year period – with over one hectare of willows being removed from creek headwaters, innovative stormwater control strategies pioneered and over 600 students, residents and professionals engaged.
- We worked with over 500 dedicated local volunteers and 600 local school students to protect and restore our waterways and regenerate bushland.
- We opened a new toilet block at Wentworth Falls that is large enough to cater for school, community and visitor groups. We also added a new boardwalk, viewing platform, pedestrian connections and interpretive signage with an indigenous aboriginal perspective.
- Our libraries had more than 450,000 visitors with library staff processing more than 500,000 loans.
- We supported a Youth Social Enterprise project providing young people with skills, training and support.
- We continued to provide leisure and fitness opportunities with over 500,000 visits to our centres in 2018-2019. Our swim school program provided lessons to more than 8000 students and free strength training to over 65 year olds. Our Group fitness programs attracted more than 55,000 visits.
- During the summer months our pools became a vibrant hub for the community with extended opening hours during extreme heat times and family friendly activities such as movies.
- We opened our new Glenbrook Visitor Information Centre, which together with our other accredited Visitor Centre at Echo Point - forms a key part of our Blue Mountains tourism offering.
- In 2018-2019 as part of the Regional Strategic Alliance with Penrith and Hawkesbury Council s we launched a regional tourism campaign - encouraging people from Greater Sydney to visit and stay overnight to boost the regional economy.
- We strengthened relationships with local business through establishing a Mayoral Reference Group for Blue Mountains business to promote dialogue and advise the Council on matters such as development processes, place-based issues, the Local Environment Plan and tourism.
- We launched the Easy to do Business program for those opening or expanding a small business and we provided a range of workshops to support small business in such areas as business planning, tax basics and marketing.
A key focus in 2018-2019 was also the completion of a major organisational performance review, resulting in the Improvement Strategy and Action Plan 2019-2021, as well as a new Operating Model and Organisational Structure.
“The Improvement Strategy formalised in 2019 builds on Council’s strong record of continuously improving its performance and effectively delivering services to the community. It will also better position the organisation to respond well to any emerging challenges and opportunities.”
Key Challenges in 2018-2019 included significant unplanned work relating to asbestos remediation and investigations, resulting in 70% of scheduled Asset Works Program projects completed during the year, with the remainder scheduled for completion in 2019-2020.
“Council has continued to safely manage the challenges associated with asbestos building materials within ageing infrastructure, and illegal dumping activities across the Blue Mountains,” Ms Dillon said. “Significant work has been undertaken to continuously improve our policies, procedures and governance processes, making us stronger and safer as an organisation.”
The Annual Report 2018-2019 summarises the performance and key achievements of Council in the second year of its four-year Delivery Program 2017-2021 and meets other statutory reporting requirements specified under the Local Government Act.