DSC close to budget

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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