How does Mosman compare with other councils?

Each year the Department of Local Government publishes statistics that allow councils in NSW to be compared. The date for 2009/2010 has just been published.

How does Mosman fare? In particular on what measures is Mosman a ‘stand-out’ well away from the average?

With only 8 sq km we are one of the smallest in area. Only Hunters Hill at 5.7 sq km is smaller. We are also small in terms of population. Mosman has 28,000 residents, close to Lane Cove with 32,000 and Manly with 40,000 but much bigger than Hunters Hill with 14,000. On the other hand Blacktown has 300,000 and most of our neighbours are much bigger – Warringah (144,000), Pittwater (59,000), North Sydney (63,000) and Willoughby (69,000).

We sit mid range in terms of population density at 3300 per sq km. Much lower than Waverley (7425) and North Sydney (6087) and just a little it more dense than Lane Cove and Manly.

Some of the other standouts are not so intuitive. Mosman experienced one of the lowest population increases of any municipality in Sydney between 2008/9 and 2009/10 at 0.59% . Most of our near neighbours grew by more than 1% and Auburn by 3.7%. The percentage of our residents from a NESB background was also one of the smallest in Sydney at 14% , bigger than Manly’s 12.5% about the same as Leichardt. All of our near neighbours have significantly higher percentages. Willoughby for example is 30% and Kuring-gai 21%. Highest in Sydney is Auburn coming in at 49%.

It is hard to make meaningful comparisons of measures such as average rating per residence. Mosman’s is $1079 about the same as Manly, Hunters Hill, Kurng-gai and Leichardt but much bigger that municipalities with a big commercial centre like North Sydney ($453) and Willoughby ($755).

Different councils have a different ratios of income source between rates and charges. Mosman for example derives three times as much income from rates than it does from charges which is about average. Outliers at either end of the spectrum are North Sydney with a 1.95 multiplier and Hunters Hill with 8.6.

There are also different spends per capita on various forms of service. Willoughby spends $68 per person annually on environment and health compared with $7 in Hunters Hill and $41 in Mosman. Spending on recreation and leisure is highest in Lane Cove at $143 per person. This compares with $33 in Hunters Hill and $90 in Mosman, slightly lower than Manly ($105) and North Sydney($118). Spending on community services is highest in Waverley at $166 which compared with Mosman’s $75 and Hunters Hill’s $32. The number of residents in each municipality served by each FTE staff member varies for comparable councils from 121 in Waverley to 257 in Warringah with Mosman near the average at 168.

Living in each different municipality would be the only authentic way to make comparisons on the value for money that residents get for their rates and charges. The comparative figures put out by DLG do show that what Mosman collects and spends is comparable with our neighbours. There is certainly no evidence that small councils are inefficient.

At present Mosman has more politicians per resident than any of our neighbouring councils apart from Hunters Hill. The proposal to reduce to 6 councillors plus the mayor will still leave us over represeted coampared to North Sydney, Willoughby, Warringah and Pittwater but slighly deprived when compared with Manly and Lane Cove. The reduction will save Council $44,000 a year in direct costs. Much greater savings will accrue from the 20% reduction in staff time needed to service the reduced number of counciloors

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