Cassowary Coast Regional Council Budget 2016-17

The CCRC Budget for 2016-17 was handed down at a meeting yesterday with the full details now available on the Council’s website.

General Rates see a 1.95% increase while the total increase in Rates and Utility Charges is 2.21%. Previous budgets had assumed increases in total Rates and Utility Charges of about 3%

The Council once again is budgeting for a balance (+$8,000) after a $125,000 surplus last year on the budget total of about $75.4 million.

Sewerage charges in Innisfail go up by 3% while those in Mission Beach and Tully see a 3.5% increase.

The Acting CEO’s Budget Report notes that, in response to financial pressures “The budget provides for savings of $350,000 in operating expenses to be made during the financial year through service level changes, non replacement of some staff as vacancies arise and efficiency initiatives from service reviews.”

The Capital Budget allows for a Capital Works program of about $30.8 million and almost $1 million of debt redemption. Depreciation this year is $24.6 million (or 32.65% of operating expenses). When considering the measures of financial sustainability that the Council has to include in its Budget, we see that the only area where CCRC falls below the minimum is with regard to Capital Renewal/Depreciation. Having got as high as 80% last year (the Queensland Audit Office target is 90%) this year falls back to 60% with a gradual decline over the next few years forecast to as low as 45%. The high level of depreciation charges that CCRC has to contend with continues to be a problem and there is little sign of that improving in coming years.

Areas of particular interest are the $689,000 allowed for the operation, maintenance and depreciation of the Council’s three existing swimming pools. There is also another $52,000 for swimming pool equipment upgrades.

Over the course of the next two financial years the Mission Beach Aquatic Facility will be completed. This year sees about $1.75 million allocated (in addition to amounts allocated from previous budgets) of the $7 million in funding obtained from State and Federal Governments.

$732,000 is allocated for tourism in the region.

$114,000 is allocated to economic development. This amount includes six months of employee costs for a new Economic Development Officer (which suggests this position not being filled until Dec 2016).

Looking at the Budget as a whole we see that Current Revenues are down about $763,000 from what was forecast for 2016-17 when the last Budget was handed down (this due to the lower than forecast increase in rates and charges).

Total Current Expenditures’ decline of about $730,000 is made up of $703,000 drop in employee costs, $588,000 of savings in materials and services and a $221,000 saving in financing costs partly offset by depreciation being $777,000 higher than forecast.

The net result is that a forecast $39,000 surplus has evaporated and we are left with just a wafer-thin $8,000 surplus for 2016-17.

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