DSC close to budget
ONE month in and the Douglas Shire Council is keeping within 5 per cent of its budget, with redundancies paid, rates received and grant money and water income yet to be realised.
During the council’s regular meeting, a financial report for January was presented, tracking the progress of the 2013-2014 budget that was adopted earlier last month.
The council is currently operating $522,050 in deficit – $22,050 off what they originally forecast.
Considering logistical and time constraints, revenue and expenses were spread out evenly across the first six months of this year, which general manager corporate services Darryl Crees explained has distorted the figure.
‘‘The final de-amalgamation cost has not been finalised and is not expected to be until March 31 and until that time we don’t have an accurate financial position for Douglas,’’ Mr Crees said during the meeting.
‘‘The report is not an indication on the current financial situation, just a reflection of January’s figures. As we couldn’t identify where income or expenditure is expected we split it evenly over the six months which shows some distortion of the actual result for the end of January.
‘‘The amount of time to develop the report was not desirable but it will be different with the 2014-15 budget – we will have time to look at trends and where expenses/income might occur in 2014-15.’’
Part of the distortion is from the redundancy payouts which have cost $832,335, which is less than the expected $1M but eight times more than the budgeted $185,583 budgeted for January. Another factor is net rates and utility charges which has come in at $1.89 million, which is more than $315,000 less.
The shortfall is because water charges have not even been sent out to ratepayers yet.
The third significant factor is the fact that $75,417 of grant money expected for January has not been received by council.
Mr Crees said by the end of the six months it should balance out and January figures were an endorsement of council’s financial management capabilities.
‘‘As council has no trend data as of yet because it was our first month of operations, staff have put a lot of effort into anticipating operating revenue and expenses for the first six months in a very short period,’’ he said.
‘‘It is very early days but to be able to contain the budget within 5 per cent in the first month is very heartening, particularly when this is the month council pays its annual fleet vehicle registration and insurances and there is less revenue coming in from other sources.’’
Mayor Julia Leu said the new council’s focus on fiscal responsibility was paying off.
‘‘After taking into account the redundancy costs which were paid out in January, along with grant and water income yet to be realised, we are very close to our forecast after one month, which is pleasing,’’ she said.
The financial report will be enhanced over the coming months with Douglas Shire Council to negotiate the final split of financial statements from Cairns Regional Council by the end of next month for the period July 1 to December 31, 2013.