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Rising costs hit Council's Budget bottom line

22 June 2018

Rising costs and fewer available grants are increasingly impacting on the bottom line of Balonne Shire Council’s budget and its ability to remain financially sustainable, but in spite of this Council is expected to deliver small increases to ratepayers when its  2018/19 Budget is adopted on Thursday, 28 June 2018.

Mayor Richard Marsh said Council would provide a simple overview of the Budget to help inform ratepayers of the workings behind it.

“This will help explain where Council receives its money and where it is spending it,” he said.

“Council, like our residents, is paying more for fuel, electricity, telephone, insurance, vehicle maintenance, legislative compliance costs, road-building materials and these costs are eating further into our budget.

“Grant money availability has been falling so the only funding we can rely on is the income we get from our ratepayers, the fees and charges for animals, waste, water etc.”

Cr Marsh said Council was being responsible with ratepayers’ money, but a previous freeze on Federal Government Financial Assistance Grants, fewer eligible government grants, a declining population and a depressed economy due to water buy backs and drought made it difficult for Council to bounce back into the black.

“Council’s general rate revenue represents 34% of council’s total revenue and is insufficient for long-term financial sustainability,” he said.

“Federal and State Government grant opportunities continue to diminish or are for new infrastructure projects only.  New infrastructure commits Council to increased depreciation and maintenance costs. It does not assist in renewing and maintaining our current assets. 

“So we need to work hard at adopting strategies to source our own revenue into the future.   In that regard, we have applied for funding to achieve accreditation to secure recoverable works with the Department of Transport and Main Roads.  We have also engaged a fully funded Grants Officer to actively pursue grant-funding opportunities and we also have a fully funded Economic Development Officer to boost the local economy over the longer term.

“I assure ratepayers we have been very prudent with their money by focusing on basic services such as roads, community support, recreational facilities, water infrastructure and waste water infrastructure.

“Looking after a region as large as ours with less than 4500 people living in it makes for a difficult budget balancing act.”

The Balonne Shire Council Budget meeting will be held at 9am, Thursday 28 June, 2018.