KIAMA has fared comparatively well within a report card on the performance NSW councils.
However, Mayor Brian Petschler believes some of the revelations contained within the Comparative Information on NSW Local Government, such as those indicating Kiama residents pay some of the state’s highest rates, were somewhat misleading.
Local Government Minister Paul Toole released the 2012-13 report cards this week, highlighting the performance of the state’s 152 councils.
“The figures are very good generally,” Cr Petschler said.
“A good measure, but you need to know all the facts behind it to understand some of it.
“The report was reasonably good for us.”
To allow a proper comparison, councils are divided into 11 categories; Shellharbour and Kiama compared with places like Albury and Port Stephens.
According to the report, unemployment in the Kiama Municipal Council area is 3.9 per cent, compared with a group average of 5.8 per cent.
Council’s management of its resources ranks highly, with population per EFT staff (No.) at 81 compared with a group average of 125.
Council’s efforts in waste management indicate that less than half of council’s waste ended up in landfill.
A total of 43 per cent of Kiama’s waste is household waste, 32 per cent is garden organics and 25 per cent is recycling.
Council spent $400 resolving Code of Conduct complaints; the group average was $4908.
While pleased overall, Cr Petschler said some comparisons and figures could be misleading.
“It looks like we’re spending a huge amount on community services,” he said.
“But we have Blue Haven; Blue Haven expenditure appears in that section of our annual statements, (so) the total figure is used.
“Blue Haven is self-contained and self-funded, it’s not part of ratepayers’ figures… It’s council owned, (so) is included in our statements.”
The report also indicated that Kiama residents pay some of NSW’s highest rates.
Kiama residents pay an average of $1223; $156 below highest-ranking Hunters Hill and $345 above that of comparable councils.
Wollongong had average business rates of $9175; above Shellharbour and Kiama at $3535 and $1806 respectively.
While admitting Kiama’s rates were towards the higher end of the scale, the mayor said they needed to be put in proper perspective.
For instance, he said council regularly noted their rates compared to areas like Wollongong’s northern suburbs or Shell Cove.
“The average rates of people in our municipality are not too different to those,” he said.
“When we compare like with like; the rates are not too different.
“They (Kiama’s) are not cheap… But we use them to provide a good service to our ratepayers.
“We seem to provide a good range of services for the rates that are paid.”
According to the report, the Kiama municipality has an area of approximately 257.8 square kilometres, and a population of 20,827.
A total of 24.1 per cent of the LGA’s population is 19 years of age or less; 48 per cent are aged between 20 and 59; 27.9 per cent are aged above 60 and 1.4 per cent are indigenous.
The average taxable income is $43,446, compared to a group average of $40,087.