Mayor Glen Hartwig and Deputy Mayor Hilary Smerdon’s first budget will be on the back of a an expected $6.23 million operational loss in 2019-20.
Mayor Glen Hartwig and Deputy Mayor Hilary Smerdon’s first budget will be on the back of a an expected $6.23 million operational loss in 2019-20.

Council’s financial hole is worse than first thought

GYMPIE Regional Council's operating budget is likely to have ended 2019-20 in a $6.2 million hole according to the latest report from acting chief financial officer David Lewis.

This figure was revealed as part of the latest financial update given at this week's council meeting, and would put the council $1.2 million worse off than last year's budget forecast.

It will be the third year in a row the council spent more than it made.

The impending operating deficit will be the council’s third in a row, and $1.2 million worse than was forecast in the last budget.
The impending operating deficit will be the council’s third in a row, and $1.2 million worse than was forecast in the last budget.

Mr Lewis told councillors the interim figure right now sat at $3.5 million, but the "latest figures" show the real number will be $6.23 million.

He said an increase in operating costs for the year was in part caused by expected employee costs savings from vacancies not being realised.

 

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"The budget assumed there would be certain vacancy factors built (in.)," Mr Lewis said.

"That … hasn't been realised."

Council will have $26 million in cash reserves, but only $9 million of that is not set aside for specific projects.
Council will have $26 million in cash reserves, but only $9 million of that is not set aside for specific projects.

However, an expected cash level of $18 million has become $26.5 million "mainly due to the fact that we haven't completed our capital works program (primarily due to COVID-19)" plus about $2.1 million in unexpected developer contributions.

Of that $26 million, only $9 million is unrestricted and not set aside to cover the cost of specific projects.

More than $4 million in rates are in arrears, with about 8 per cent of the region's rates still owed. Mr Lewis said the going rate for other councils was about 2-3 per cent.

The council's foot had come off the rate recovery peddle a bit since the pandemic to ease pressure on ratepayers, he said.

Gympie Times


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