Council on track to break even by 2024
Saturday, 30th April, 2016
By Erica Visser
A projection that City Council will be “back in the black” by 2024 without relying on rate hikes was not ambitious, according to new General Manager James Roncon.
Councillors adopted the draft budget for 2016/2017 on Wednesday night and Mr Roncon, along with Finance Manager Shane Nankivell, will spend the coming weeks providing a breakdown of the long document to various community groups.
Mr Roncon commended the past efforts of management, councillors and staff which had resulted in a $7 million deficit in 2013 slashed to a forecast $2.4 million for 2016/2017.
“If you look at the past two to three years, there’s been some really tough decisions that have had to be made by Council and by Council staff in terms of the organisational restructure and getting Council back on sustainable footing,” Mr Roncon said.
“I think if you look at the draft budget that’s been handed down for 2016/2017 and currently on public display, you can see that those decisions are starting to take effect and there’s some really positive signs on Council’s budget and where it’s heading to in the future.”
Mr Roncon was confident that Council could get out of the red without hiking rates above the pegged level, as was last considered in 2013.
“If you look at the figure and the trending now I think we’re in a really good position,” he said.
“As we review service levels and how we operate and try to do things effectively and efficiently as possible, we may be able to hit that target of back in the black even earlier.
“Certainly i think 2023/2024 is a pretty good goal and we’ll work towards that at the moment.”
But there were likely more controversial decisions on the horizon, with halls and centres in the firing line under the ongoing service and asset review.
Some parties had already expressed concern their meeting places may be at risk, including the city’s pensioners with the Aged Persons Rest Centre and the BIU Band with its hall.
However it was hoped that clubs and groups with similar issues could move to co-habitat.
Having started in the role less than a month ago, Mr Roncon said he could not take credit for the 2016/2017 budget.
“A lot of the work behind the budget has been done long before I got here...certainly it’s not anything I’ve been able to do.”
The document is available for viewing on Council’s website and at its Blende Street administration centre. It will remain on public display for several weeks, during which the public is encouraged to provide input.
COUNCIL’S BUDGET AT A GLANCE
* Rates increased by 1.8% peg
* Projected operating deficit = $2.4 million (down $1.74 million on 2015/2016)
* Capital expenditure = $10.4 million; including roads ($2.4m), buildings ($4.1m), plant/fleet ($1.2m) and open spaces ($2.65m)
* Grant funding = $7.55 million