Balancing the budget
  • Thursday 11 June 2009

Sunshine Coast Regional Council reviewed the draft operational budget and proposed community service obligations yesterday during a special budget meeting as it endeavours to deliver a balanced budget.

Financial Management and Business Unit Performance portfolio holder Cr Chris Thompson said that the most important aspect of yesterday’s presentations was the bottom line objective of achieving a balanced operational result in 2009/10.

“Council has endorsed a strategy to reduce the impact on ratepayers by setting efficiency targets of $12 million for the 2009/10 financial year,” Cr Thompson said.

“This means finding savings of $1 million per month from council’s operational budget.

Cr Thompson said these aggressive targets aim to ensure council’s operational budget balances without the need to borrow money.

“If we can achieve a break-even position, it will be an outstanding result,” Cr Thompson said.

Executive Director of Finance and Business Greg Laverty said that these are tough times and that council needed to become even more efficient in the way we do business.

“It’s about working with our staff to find better ways of delivering services to the community without reducing service levels,” Mr Laverty said.

Council is facing significant decreases in revenue from lower growth in rateable properties, an estimated $8 million reduction in development fees and lower interest revenue from investments.

Increased expenses from electricity, water and fuel, as well as other costs that will not be fully understood until the state government delivers its budget next week, must also be funded. Costs associated with amalgamation as well as water reform are also ongoing.

“While the operational budget will be kept to a minimum, there are still a wide range of strategies and projects that will be implemented in line with council’s corporate plan,” Cr Thompson said.

“These include public transport initiatives over and above the $3 million collected from the public transport levy, $250,000 to start developing a unified planning scheme for the Sunshine Coast, $925,000 toward managing key growth fronts as well as funding for climate change, biodiversity, and affordable housing initiatives.”

At the special budget meeting of 18 June, council will consider the revenue statement and a significant capital works program that aims to help support the local economy.