Coun­cil fi­nances

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY NEWS AND VIEWS -

DE­SPITE re­ceiv­ing WRC’s on line fi­nan­cials de­scrip­tion in China, I only got the num­bers last week to com­pre­hend their “ex­pla­na­tion” of April’s $25m deficit be­ing turned into a $50m sur­plus in May, and, oh WRC “found” ~“$30m of cap­i­tal grants”, com­pleted a stan­dard ac­count­ing cap­i­tal­iza­tion of $60m of their re­cur­rent cap­i­tal works spend so May’s fi­nan­cials now show the “al­ways ob­vi­ous sur­plus” it’s taken 9 months for this new regime to post. And “April YTD bud­get” is trans­formed from a $40m deficit, to (an­other) re­vised $12m YTD bud­get sur­plus.

The pre­vi­ous mob’s ~$18m bud­get sur­plus is look­ing good (de­spite a $21m over­spend). WRC cred­i­bil­ity gap widens. A $15m re­fund of 2010 NDRRA due in March, re­set for May has again lapsed to Au­gust de­spite the CEO’s March re­port “all 2010 work, was ceased by him 8th Oc­to­ber 2012 and “all re­views and in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been con­ducted”. Three years on we’re still wait­ing for an o/s $15m. Year-end cash would’ve shown $34m in the bank, if >90 days debtors were man­aged. NDRRA is hugely im­por­tant, as it’s free to ratepay­ers. Is the $66m bal­ance of 2011 NDRRA still avail­able to us? WRC mo­tioned 31st Oc­to­ber, 14th Novem­ber and reaf­firmed by the CEO March 13th, to re­port monthly. 4 months later no re­port.

May’s cash flows, show lit­tle through June and only ~$20m spend to Fe­bru­ary 2014. Re­mem­ber its part of a “free” $220m of Fed/State govern­ment monies rec­om­mended to up­grade our roads over 3 years. It would’ve been pro­vi­sioned in State/Fed­eral govern­ment cof­fers, but we risk los­ing $40-$50m. In­evitably ratepay­ers will have to pay, or we ac­cept poorer roads.

Con­clu­sions QLD Trea­sury came to in March are now shown based on the same in­com­plete gyrat­ing fi­nan­cial forecasts this regime trots out ev­ery month. Af­ter let­ting go the safe hands of the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial and en­gi­neer­ing knowl­edge and NDRRA lead­er­ship in­ac­tiv­ity, this looks like cost­ing us much more than a poorly ne­go­ti­ated $18m over­spend on $154m of free roads de­liv­ered by the pre­vi­ous mob. WRC was never in the “most distressed coun­cil sta­tus” where some of this new mob ap­par­ently did their ap­pren­tice­ship. With the new COO/en­gi­neer also “let go”, I won­der who’s next? John W Barnes BOWEN

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