Council budget falls short of surplus target

While the budget for 2011-12 falls short of the $1 million surplus target, Mayor Jan Barham says Byron Shire Council has been considering ways to reduce costs, optimise returns and will look closely at its business units to see where improvements can be made.
Cr Barham said the projected bottom line was a $72,000 surplus at the end of June next year.
She said the positive result saw the accumulated working surplus at a projected $288,400 at the end of the 2012 financial year.
“Whilst it’s a balanced budget, it will still be a challenging year as the need to maintain ageing infrastructure and respond to community needs is pitched against a stretched budget,” she said.
“The aim over the past two terms of council has been to maintain a working surplus of $1 million within the general fund.
“The working surplus allows for unexpected works to occur without going into overdraft, borrowing funds or cutting planned services and or maintenance.”
The council’s draft 2011/12 management plan and budget will be on public exhibition until June 6.
This financial year will see three major projects on the council’s agenda. They include the completion of on the Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex, the reconstruction of Lighthouse Rd and work commencing on the long-awaited Byron Bay Library.
The draft management plan is also proposing a special rate variation of 2.45% on top of the IPART rate peg of 2.8%, a total of 5.25%.
If the council’s application is approved, the additional 2.45% equates to an extra $52 on general rates for an average residential house – less than $1 a week increase.
If not approved, the general rate will increase by $28 for an average residential house.
The special rate variation will contribute towards the ongoing operating costs of the Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex, the Byron Bay Library and provide additional funds to assist the accumulated working fund surplus move towards returning to $1 million.
The council’s financial manager, James Brickley, said the council’s investments were also considered in the draft management plan.
Mr Brickley said historically, the council had invested funds that were not required in the short term.
He said the global financial crisis had impacted on the council’s investments.
Mr Brickley said it was estimated an invested $14.8 million would not return interest in 2011-12.
“Assuming the investment would have returned 6.2%, this is equates to $917,600 in lost revenue,” he said.
Mr Brickley said the investments were “capital protected” and had been trending towards improvement.
“Council will continue to consider switching the investments to better-performing portfolios should the opportunity arise,” he said.
The council is encouraging residents to inspect the draft management plan and make submissions during the exhibition period.
Two public meetings will be held to explain the draft plans.
They will be held at commencing 6pm on Monday, May 23, at the council chambers in Mullumbimby and at 6pm on Tuesday, May 24, in the training room at the council’s Byron Bay depot.

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