NSW Overview

Council Assets 2019-20 ($ billions)

Infrastructure breakdown


Council Assets

NSW councils own and control assets with a total value of over $177.9 billion. These assets include cash, investments, infrastructure, plant and equipment, receivables, inventory and intangible assets. The largest component of councils’ assets base is infrastructure, with a net value of over $117.9 billion. Roads and related assets (eg bridges and footpaths) make up more than $67 billion or 56.8% of these assets. Strong and sustainable communities that optimise the use of public resources is what the residents and rate payers of NSW are looking for. As a result, the management of these assets, and in particular infrastructure assets, is an extremely important component of a council’s function.

Asset Maintenance Expenditure


Expenditure on asset maintenance is essential to ensuring assets continue to meet their service delivery requirements. Councils are required to have asset management plans that set out annual maintenance requirements to keep assets at their existing condition. If actual maintenance expenditure is less than the estimated required annual maintenance a council may not be investing enough funds within the year to stop its infrastructure backlog from growing.

Councils reported shortfalls in maintenance expenditure in 2019-20 ranging from $62,000 to $11.5 million, with 4% of 128 councils reporting a shortfall of greater than $5 million, compared to 3% in 2018-19. 52% of councils reported more expenditure on maintenance than required as indicated in their asset management plans. The total amount of shortfall reported was $85.6 million, while greater expenditure totalled $119 million.

Infrastructure Results

Estimated cost to bring assets to a satisfactory standard

The improved information and greater focus on asset management has been reflected in a more accurate indication of the estimated cost to bring assets to a satisfactory standard (referred to as the ‘infrastructure backlog’).

Councils reported a backlog for 2019-20 estimated at $3.7 billion. This represents a decrease compared with $3.8 billion in 2018-19.  Backlog amounts ranged from $0 to $254 million.

Councils are encouraged to continue to undertake community consultation in setting the level of service required for each class of assets when determining budgets and setting priorities.

Infrastructure Backlog Ratio

The infrastructure backlog ratio shows the infrastructure backlog in proportion to the total written down value (the value of an asset after accounting for depreciation, reflecting the asset’s present worth) of a council’s infrastructure. A ratio of less than 2% is considered the benchmark. The number of councils that have reported a backlog ratio greater than 2% is 69. Across the State, infrastructure backlog ratios ranged from 0 to 22.1%, with the state average being 3.7%.

Regional Town/City councils have the largest infrastructure backlogs in total dollar terms, with an average backlog of $52 million, with Metropolitan councils having an average backlog of $28.7 million.

The ratio is calculated by the estimated cost to bring assets to a satisfactory condition divided by the total value written down value of roads, water, sewer, buildings and other infrastructure assets.

Asset Maintenance Ratio

The asset maintenance ratio compares a council’s actual asset maintenance expenditure against its estimated required annual asset maintenance expenditure. It indicates if a council is investing enough funds within the year to stop the infrastructure backlog from growing. A measure of 100% indicates council is investing sufficient funds to ensure the backlog does not increase.

The average asset maintenance ratio was 105% in 2019-20, compared to 106.4% in 2018-19. Results for individual councils ranged from 0% to 547.4%.

The ratio is calculated by actual asset maintenance expenditure divided by required asset maintenance expenditure.

Building and Infrastructure Renewal Ratio

The building and infrastructure renewal ratio assesses the rate at which assets are being renewed against the rate at which they are depreciating. Renewal is defined as the replacement of existing assets to equivalent capacity or performance capability, as opposed to the acquisition of new assets. A council’s renewal ratio may fluctuate based on council priorities. A result of greater than 100% is considered satisfactory.

Councils’ infrastructure renewal ratios ranged from 0% to 620% for 2019-20, with 31 (24%) councils reporting a result of greater than 100%.  The average was 78%. The ratio is calculated by asset renewals (infrastructure assets) divided by depreciation, amortisation and impairment (infrastructure assets).

Within their 2019-20 Financial Statements, a number of councils included expenditure related to work-in-progress (WIP) when calculating this ratio. WIP should not be included and has been removed from the calculation within this website, for comparative reporting purposes.

Infrastructure Results 2019-20

State avg. Metro Metro fringe Regional Large rural Rural
Total cost to satisfactory condition (backlog) $30.2m $28.7m $36.3m $52.0m $15.8m $6.4m
Backlog per capita $461.32 $181.75 $240.63 $838.71 $1,529.34 $2,079.41
Total required maintenance $14.7m $22.8m $25.0m $21.5m $5.6m $3.4m
Total actual maintenance $14.64m $23.5m $26.5m $20.3m $5.8m $3.5m
Difference actual vs required maintenance $272k $515k $2.4m -$308k $357k -$134k
Infrastructure backlog (%) 3.7 2.8 1.9 4.4 4.0 3.2
Asset maintenance (%) 105 111 108 99 108 103
Building & infrastructure renewal (%) 78.2 78.1 57.0 60.4 79.9 129.9