RATE RISES ‘NOT BAD’ Mayor says region in best shape since amalgamation.
Council in ‘best position’ in a decade
SOUTHERN Downs residents can expect to pay 2.75 per cent more in rates in the coming financial year, but the council’s overall fiscal outlook is the “best since amalgamation” according to Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie.
Compared with the 4 per cent increase that was predicted in the council’s 2015 longterm financial forecast, the 2.75 per cent rates hike was “not bad going” the mayor said.
“This is the second time we have been able to bring it down from the projected increase,” Cr Dobie said.
The Southern Downs Regional Council’s draft 2018/19 budget was published ahead of Wednesday’s general council meeting, revealing a predicted $322,000 drop in budget surplus as the council suffers a $5.9 million fall in capital grants.
Despite a predicted $802,000 rise in overall expenditure, Cr Dobie said the council had made positive headway in its financial management.
“We are improving in our ability to put in really good grant submissions and also the way we are managing expenditure much better than we have in the past,” the mayor said.
THEY HAVE OBVIOUSLY REDUCED THE DEBT WHICH IS REALLY GOOD. ROBYN FRASER
After being listed on the Queensland Treasury watch list for financial management, the council has implemented quarterly budget reviews in an attempt to its reduce its debt, which currently sits around $22 million.
“We have been forced to tighten up operations,” Cr Dobie said.
“We now have, for the first time since amalgamation, restricted cash reserves. We actually have money in the bank that is earmarked for specific outcomes.”
The council expects to reduce its debt by $1.56 million in the coming financial year and not borrow any more money.
SDRC CEO David Keenan said the council was performing better than in previous years following a recent risk assessment conducted by the Queensland Audit Office into the council’s long-term financial sustainability,
“Long-term financial sustainability is a key focus for this council,” Mr Keenan said.
He added it was the first time since 2013 that council had received a QAO assessment with no “red” indicators.
Warwick business owner Robyn Fraser said she was confident in the council’s financial performance.
“I think they are doing all and more than they told us they would do,” she said.
“They have obviously reduced the debt which is really good.”