Response to ESCOSA local government advice for Onkaparinga

Published on 28 February 2024

The Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA) today released its latest round of Local Government Advice several councils, including a report on the City of Onkaparinga.

Council administration has worked collaboratively with ESCOSA in the development of their report responding to queries and providing data.

While the report does identify challenges to financial sustainability, Onkaparinga CEO Phu Nguyen said the council’s focus since his appointment in July 2023 has been budget repair.

“I was hired with a mandate to achieve tangible improvements in the council’s financial position and our entire team has been working closely with elected members to achieve that,” he said.

“We’re already aware of the issues identified by ESCOSA and we’re actively addressing those in the re-development of our Community Plan, Long Term Financial Plan, Strategic Asset Management Plan and 2024-25 Annual Business Plan and Budget.”

The council will release all four draft documents for engagement on 19 April.

“As we focus on budget repair we’re aiming to diversify revenue opportunities and look at ways to reduce expenditure while still maintaining essential services to the community,” Mr Nguyen said.

“This won’t happen overnight—it will require hard work to return to a balanced budget and long-term financial sustainability.

“This is what I expect as CEO, and I know that expectation is shared by the community and elected members.”

Mayor Moira Were said Mr Nguyen was the ideal candidate to lead the council toward stronger financial performance.

“Phu has over 20 years’ experience in local government in both Victoria and NSW, including eight years as Chief Financial Officer with the City of Melbourne,” she said.

“This experience is the reason he was hired as our new CEO, to apply his financial acumen and drive the organisation toward higher performance.

“Importantly, we need to be upfront and transparent which we have been doing through our recent community plan workshops.

"The review’s recommendations confirm we are on the right track, and we’re now looking to the future to ensure we can deliver for the community in an efficient and sustainable way”.