Despite the cloud of amalgamation looming, Maitland City Council has continued to raise the bar, posting what has been described as its best ever annual report.
Large visitation increases were reported to council’s website, development applications were up, the number of visitors to the city’s libraries increased and visitation to Maitland Regional Art Gallery jumped by a whopping 311 per cent.
Proud mayor Peter Blackmore said in his 30 years of public life he has never seen a better report. “I can honestly say that this report is the best yet and I have to say that this is a huge team effort. We have excellent staff, volunteers and of course the community,” he said.
“Financially we have lifted our bottom line and of course a lot of that is because of the rate increase.”
Council delivered a balanced budget for 2015/2016 which was supported by an annual productivity factor of $500,000.
Council’s general manager David Evans said council will continue to build on its strengths and continue delivering on key priorities.
The report said the local government area in 2015/16 had an estimated population of 76,607 and a growth rate of 1.6 per cent. The adopted occupation rate of 2.7 people per household is considered medium to high and reflects young families moving into the area.
The report states that at April 2016, the gross revenue generated by businesses and organisations in Maitland was influenced by five main sectors, manufacturing, construction, real estate sales, rental and other hiring industries, mining and retail.
Cr Blackmore said this year coincided with one of the most dynamic periods of change in the 174-year history of local government in NSW.
“Many councils across the state are in the process of merging as a result of the NSW local government reform program Fit for the Future,” he said.
“While originally determined as “fit” by the Local Government Review Committee in March, the Local Government Minister formalised a merger proposal for Maitland and Dungog councils,” he said.
“This placed our council in limbo but we have had a composed approach while waiting for a decision. The dedication of staff to maintain a high level of service delivery during this period of uncertainty has been impeccable,” Cr Blackmore said.