Mitchell Shire Council hopes a new asset plan will improve community confidence in the long-term maintenance of the shire’s public infrastructure and open spaces.
At last month’s meeting, councillors voted to adopt a new asset plan, in line with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2020.
The plan paints a picture of the condition and value of infrastructure within the municipality and the challenges of maintaining it.
It was developed incorporating five previous asset management plans that separately governed roads, buildings, bridges, drainage, and parks and open space.
The plan references council’s 2050 Community Vision project as a long-term guiding influence outlining Mitchell Shire residents’ desires regarding infrastructure and service investment.
Cr Ronda Sanderson said the plan was not publicly exhibited because of a rushed State Government deadline for its adoption, but that council had engaged with stakeholders while drafting the plan and would incorporate community consultation in the future.
“It is intended that in the future … we will include community consultation, as we generally do with any major plan or policy,” she said.
“It’s the first iteration … [and] it seems to be fairly good. In the next version there will be further consultation and it will be expanded upon.”
The plan breaks down council spending on its various asset categories, as well as the annual rate of asset depreciation.
It found roads made up nearly half of the shire’s asset replacement cost, with buildings second at 21 per cent, drainage at 17 per cent, bridges at nine per cents and parks and open space at four per cent.
All council assets were given a condition rating from zero – a new asset or an asset recently rehabilitated to new condition – to 10 – a failed asset that was no longer serviceable and presented extreme risk if it remained in service.
By far the most common rating was five – assets that were in fair condition with obvious deterioration and some serviceability loss – representing about $180 million.
More than $100 million of assets were rated four – good, with some obvious deterioration and slightly impaired serviceability – followed by about $75 million of assets rated three – very good, with early stages of deterioration and minor or no serviceability problems.
About $40 million of assets were rated two, $65 million rated one and $50 million rated zero. At the other end of the spectrum, about $70 million of assets were rated six, $35 million rated seven, $10 million each rated eight and nine, and about $1 million rated 10.
Cr David Lowe said the plan also included areas of improvement identified through a review of council’s asset management plans. He said council needed ‘to professionalise our approach’ to the asset plan.
“[The asset improvement plan] sketches out the size of the task we’re facing to tackle some of the problematic assets. Some of them are not as closely managed as they might be,” he said.
Cr Fiona Stevens said she wanted to see council revisit each of its asset management plans.
“The purpose of the new legislation introducing this document … is to improve line of sight to all of the assets we hold, both new and old … and discussing how we can manage them into the future,” she said.
“It’s a very challenging area because we have very new assets, we have very old assets and we’re going to be taking on assets every year as developers hand over various buildings and facilities to council.
“It’s a really big thing, and I think to complete the effectiveness of all of this we need to now look at our asset management plans and see how we’re travelling in relation to those. We can move forward and identify better ways of doing things.”