3 town councils marked down for overdue conservancy charges in MND report, with 1 citing renovation delays
- All 17 town councils received a "green" rating in estate cleanliness, maintenance and lift performance
- Three of them received an "amber" rating in management of service and conservancy charges arrears
- This was the first report since the Covid-19 pandemic after a previous report for the April 2020 to March 2021 period was suspended
SINGAPORE — All 17 town councils received the highest rating in estate cleanliness and maintenance, as well as lift performance, in the latest annual management report released on Wednesday (June 29). However, three were marked down for their management of service and conservancy charges (S&CC) arrears.
One town council attributed its S&CC arrears to homeowners facing delays in renovating and occupying their new Build-To-Order (BTO) flats.
The latest town council management report by the Ministry of National Development (MND), covering the April 2021 to March 2022 period, was its first report since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Town councils, which look after the day-to-day operations of maintaining government-built flats in housing estates, were not assessed from April 2020 to March 2021.
This was because of disruptions during the two-month semi-lockdown in mid-2020. Town boundaries were also shifted following the 2020 General Election in July, before which electoral boundaries were changed.
At the opposition-held Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), it has — for the first time since the Workers’ Party took over after the 2011 General Election — received a “green” score in the four components assessed.
For each of the four categories, town councils are graded green, amber or red — with green representing the best score.
This was the first year MND released its grading of town councils in two parts — the first assessing the four operational management standards and the second covering only corporate governance to be published in November or December this year.
MND said that this year's performance was an improvement from the last assessment for April 2019 to March 2020.
The three town councils marked down for their management of unpaid S&CC fees were Chua Chu Kang, Jurong-Clementi and Sengkang, which all received an “amber” rating.
The 14 other town councils all received a “green” rating.
S&CC are monthly fees town councils collect from residents and commercial operators that go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the estate.
The three town councils were marked down for having 40 to 60 per cent of the monthly collectible S&CC for the town overdue, or for having four to six in 100 households that owed arrears for three months or more, MND said in a statement.
Town councils are graded green if they had less than 40 per cent of monthly collectible S&CC overdue and fewer than four in 100 households that owed arrears for three months or more.
In response to TODAY’s queries, the Chua Chu Kang Town Council (CCKTC) said that the main reason it had a higher amount of S&CC overdue was the "lag effect" of the delay in homeowners moving into their new BTO flats.
From 2020 to the first quarter of this year, more than 1,200 BTO flats were completed in the non-mature estate of Chua Chu Kang, CCKTC said.
“Many BTO flat residents typically pay their S&CC fees only upon moving in, after three to nine months of renovations,” it added.
“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.”
CCKTC also said that it sends reminder letters to residents who owe payments, and its officers assist its residents by allowing them to pay their arrears by instalments, for instance.
Mr Xie Yao Quan, chairman of the Jurong-Clementi Town Council, said that the town council continues to “actively monitor the financial health” of its residential accounts and that it empathises with residents who are in genuine financial difficulty.
The town council will continue to work with social service agencies to help eligible households clear their S&CC arrears.
Mr Xie, who is also Member of Parliament for Jurong Group Representation Constituency, said: “For other households in arrears, Jurong-Clementi Town Council will continue to issue reminders and take other recovery actions as appropriate.”
Sengkang Town Council said that it is focused on designing repayment schemes that are "practicable for our residents", and will continue to work closely with residents to manage S&CC collections.
"However, it is important to recognise that the amber banding also points to the deeper, underlying challenges that residents are facing in managing the rising costs of living," it added.
A spokesperson for AHTC said that its green ratings this year were made possible by the concerted efforts of residents and other stakeholders, including staff members, cleaners, contractors, town councillors and various government and statutory agencies.
“We remain committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that AHTC continues to do well in all aspects of town management.”