RATE RISES ‘NOT BAD’ Mayor says re­gion in best shape since amal­ga­ma­tion.

Coun­cil in ‘best po­si­tion’ in a decade

Warwick Daily News - - Front Page - MAR­IAN FAA Mar­ian.Faa@war­wick­dai­lynews.com.au

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.

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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.”

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