3 town councils given lower ratings for arrears management in service and conservancy charges: MND
SINGAPORE: Three town councils have been handed lower ratings for Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) arrears management in the latest operational report released by the Ministry of National Development (MND) on Wednesday (Jun 29).
The three - Chua Chu Kang Town Council, Jurong-Clementi Town Council and Sengkang Town Council - received "Amber" ratings in the category for FY2021.
They were banded “Amber” as the town councils had 40 per cent to less than 60 per cent of the monthly collectable S&CC for the town overdue, or the households that owed arrears for three months or more was between four and less than six in 100 households.
The other 14 town councils were in the "Green" band for FY2021.
To be in the "Green" band for S&CC arrears management, the overdue monthly S&CC should be less than 40 per cent, and fewer than four in 100 households should owe arrears for three months or more.
In response to CNA's queries, a spokesperson from Chua Chu Kang Town Council said that a key contributor to the town council's S&CC arrears remaining "elevated" in FY2021 was the lag effect resulting from the delay in homeowners moving into their new Build-to-Order (BTO) flats.
"From 2020 to 1Q 2022, more than 1,200 BTO flats came on stream in the non-mature estate of Chua Chu Kang. Many BTO flat residents typically pay their S&CC fees only upon moving in, after 3-9 months of renovations.
"The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant and protracted disruptions in the home building and renovation sector, which has in turn resulted in BTO homeowners taking a longer time to renovate and occupy their flats."
The spokesperson said that the town council helps residents keep up with their payments by sending reminder letters to alert them of any outstanding arrears.
Its town council officers also engage with residents on the ground to clarify questions and offer assistance, including the option for financially strapped residents to pay by instalments, the spokesperson added.
Sengkang Town Council said that the "Amber" banding it received points to the "deeper, underlying challenges" residents are facing in managing the rising costs of living.
"We have been working very closely with our residents to manage collections of the monthly S&CC," it said in response to CNA's queries, adding that it is focused on "designing repayment schemes that are practicable" for its residents.
The town council said that it sends out regular reminders to inform residents of "the wide array of services" that their S&CC contributions go towards.
Jurong-Clementi Town Council said that its amount of residential S&CC arrears of three months or more was 48 per cent of the total amount collectible each month.
Town council chairman Xie Yao Quan said: "We empathise with residents who are in genuine financial difficulty, and continue to work with Social Service Offices to help eligible households clear their S&CC arrears."
He added that the town council continues to work with residents with arrears on various payment options, including instalment plans that are suited to their financial circumstances.
For other households in arrears, Jurong-Clementi Town Council will continue to issue reminders and "take other recovery actions as appropriate".
Mr Xie said that there was an improvement in the Town Council's S&CC arrears situation in the first few months of FY22.
IMPROVED PERFORMANCES COMPARED TO PREVIOUS FINANCIAL YEAR
In its news release, the National Development Ministry noted that town councils' performances improved compared to FY2019.
The assessment for town councils was suspended for the period April 2020 to March 2021 due to the electoral boundary changes following Singapore's General Election in July 2020 and the disruption faced during the "circuit breaker" period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All town councils achieved the "Green" banding for the other three indicators in the management report: Estate cleanliness, estate maintenance and lift performance.
Assessments are given using three colour bands - green, amber and red.
To be given a "Green" rating for estate cleanliness or maintenance, town councils must have fewer than four counts of cleanliness or maintenance observations per block on average.
For lift performance, town councils have to ensure that there are fewer than two lift faults per 10 lifts each month, and less than one hour of downtime per lift each month.
In February, the National Development Ministry said that it would publish the next Town Council Management Report for FY2021, which runs from April 2021 to March 2022, in two reports.
The first report, covering the town councils’ performance for operational indicators (estate cleanliness, estate maintenance, lift performance and service & conservancy charge arrears management), was released on Wednesday.
Another report will reflect town councils’ performance in regulatory compliance and financial reporting through the corporate governance indicator. It will come at the end of the year after MND receives and reviews the audited financial statements and their auditor's report.