AN increase in general rates of three per cent will be seen in the Barcoo region this coming financial year.
All rate increases in the Barcoo Shire have been limited to three per cent for all continuing categories including township and rural.
Despite successful lobbying of the State Government for support, the Barcoo Council has seen an operational deficit of $5.5m, including depreciation of $7.5m this financial year.
Barcoo Shire Council CEO Paul Hockings said [this coming financial year], council will be faced with having to exercise tight control over its spending.
“These continued operational deficits are a very sobering thought and obviously refocuses the attention on the burning issue of financial sustainability in local government particularly west of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland,” he said.
“Council is mindful of the risk in carrying large debt, particularly when our own sourced revenue is low, and other revenue streams are subject to large variations.”
At the end of June 2021, council’s accumulated funds amounted to $7.8m.
“However, this will be impacted this year with council’s commitment to projects that have either commenced or been funded with grants and matching revenue,” Cr Hockings said.
“In line with its general approach council has committed that if the supporting grant funding is not received, the projects will not progress, thus reducing the impact on our funds and providing for responsible management of our position.”
A comprehensive list of all projects is set out within the budget papers.
Cr Hockings said 2021/22 Budget had been prepared on a bottom-up basis with responsible fiscal management in mind and full awareness of council’s current financial position.
“This budget has been guided by the outcomes of the business improvement program council has completed during the last financial in conjunction with the Queensland Treasury Corporation,” he said.
“The major projects impacting on council’s bottom line this financial year will be flooded recovery works and the continuation of COVID-19 Stimulus funded programs, some of which has been carried over from the 2020/21 financial year.”
Cr Hockings said while significant funding is expected for flood repair works, these monies will be targeted to specific projects.
“Council will still need to carefully monitor its general cash reserves in order to meet other capital obligations under the roadworks, plant replacement, and asset renewal programs,” Cr Hockings said.
“The increase in rates revenue will provide an additional 12 per cent revenue.
“This however has been generated through changes to differential categories.”
During the year the land valuations have been completed by the Valuer-General and there have been significant increases in many values across the Shire.
“However, the valuation changes include large variances across different sectors and properties which will have some individual impacts across the area,” Cr Hockings said.
“Council is aware of the economic times being experienced by ratepayers within the shire and has sought to keep rate rises to a minimum while attempting to source government funding for projects where possible.”
“[And in the past year], Council has been successful in attracting federal and state funding for a number of much-needed projects within the shire.”