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Mayor Jenny Whitney said the 2014-15 financial year Whitsunday Regional Council Budget is fast approaching, and will be delivered within the next couple of months, with Council finalising the finer details over the next few weeks.
Mayor Whitney said inroads have been made towards rectifying the Council’s financial positionover the last 2 years.
“This has been done by making the difficult decisions around rate rises, gaining emergent funding, introducing a levy and constraining expenditure,” she said.
“Through the initial preparation for the 2014-15 Budget, Council believes the operating position of $22.4 million deficit can be turned around to be operating at a surplus of $1.8 million by the end of 2014-15.
“The $73 million debt can also be reduced to $67 million by the end of 2014-15 and responsibleand sustainable cash flow management can be achieved to avoid insolvency.
“These measures can only be achieved by Council making the difficult decisions to sell surplusassets, further constrain expenditure, looking at keeping the levy and including a moderate raterise in 2014-15 Budget.
“Despite Council’s priorities being focused on paying down debt there will also be a moderatecapital work program as part of the 2014-15 Budget which will include road upgrades and waterand sewerage infrastructure improvements across the Whitsunday region,” she said.
Mayor Whitney said Whitsunday Regional Council has three key strategies to address the financial situation in which we find ourselves.
In the 2014-15 Budget, Council aims to improve this difficult financial position by:•Paying down the $73 million debt•Correcting the operating position of Council so it is operating in surplus, not in deficit•Restoring responsible and sustainable cash flow management
"Like all levels of government across Australia, the Whitsunday Regional Council is currentlyoperating in difficult financial circumstances which call for difficult decisions to be made,” she said.
"These difficult decisions will stabilise Council's financial position now so the entire region can reap the economic opportunities available to us as a region in the future."
The options Council is considering for the 2014-15 Budget, to achieve these aims include:•Selling assets•Further constraining operating and capital expenditure•Further rate rises•Maintaining the $140 levy•Reducing the 5% early rate payment discount
Mayor Whitney said the $140 levy currently allows Council to meet the required repayments toQueensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) for the $10 million emergent loan.
“If the levy were to be scrapped the loan repayments would need to be raised from an alternative source, one option being further rate rises,” she said.
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