Axing of mergers means budget rethink
MERGER cancellation has prompted a long-term spending plan to be reviewed and possibly rewritten before the 201516 budget is adopted at Mosman Park Council.
“We need to determine whether our strategic objectives remain the same, or change is needed with possible new or different priorities,” Mayor Ron Norris said.
A rates rise of 1 per cent generates about $75,000 for the council and Mr Norris said that if the Government reversed its position not to repay about $500,000 Mosman Park spent on planning for mergers the council’s budget would be fixed “with a flash”.
In anticipation of mergers, the council depleted its reserves to spend on maintenance for community assets, including parks’ pavilions, after limited support among councillors to greatly increase rates to pay for the work.
At last month’s meeting, it was agreed chief executive Kevin Poynton review the council’s longterm Corporate Business Plan that outlines planned spending and recommend savings before budget talks start in April.
Councillors directed Mr Poynton towards “streamlining” the council, its operations, “tighter” procurement and a review of its discretionary spending to keep any rates rise within a range that could pay for the changes.
Cr Ian Flack said the only “readily available” source of income was raising rates “significantly”, which he and some other councillors opposed.
Cr Flack said previous budgets had been “propped up by the near exhaustion of reserves for capital and operations”, leaving a $12,472 infrastructure reserve in 2014-15 and Mosman Park spent $4.28 million on staff when neighbouring, similar-sized Cottesloe Council spent $3.67 million.
“Mosman Park is close to the Department of Treasury limit for borrowings,” he said.
Mr Norris said staff would always be required for essential planning, building and emergency services, and “nothing will impact them”.
“In my opinion, if the council sets about rebuilding its infrastructure reserve it would consider a rates rise of 2-3 per cent in addition to any other rises, but there appears to be little support for that,” he said.