Council halves budget deficit with annual Operational Plan

Kempsey Shire Council have approved an Operational Plan for the coming financial year which more than halves the deficit proposed in the initial draft budget.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Council approved the Operational Plan 2020-21 and associated integrated planning and reporting documents (Revenue Policy, Long Term Financial Plan and Rate Categories maps) following public exhibition, consideration of submissions and internal review.

Outlining the proposed activities and budget for the coming financial year, the Operational Plan is the council equivalent of a state or federal government annual budget.

When presented to the April meeting of Council, the initial draft Operational Plan anticipated an operating deficit (excluding income from capital grants and contributions) of $7.6 million for Council’s General Fund.

Conscious of the potential economic impacts of coronavirus and Council’s long term financial sustainability, there was an appetite to reduce this figure. As such, while the draft plan was placed on public exhibition, internal revisions and remodelling were conducted by staff, and a workshop with Councillors was held on 27 May 2020 to review Council’s planned spending and consider options to improve the budget position.

As a result of these processes the General Fund operating deficit, contained in the approved Operational Plan, was improved to $3.2 million when income from capital grants and contributions are excluded.

The outer year forecast deficits have similarly reduced, resulting in substantially improved longer term financial forecasts.

KSC Mayor Liz Campbell thanked her fellow Councillors and staff for their hard work and professionalism in preparing and reviewing the budget.

“This is one of the most significant reports for decision in any Council year and this report sets out what we’re going to do and the financial means for how we’re going to get the job done,” said Cr Campbell.

“2020-2021 will be another busy year with $54 million of capital works delivered to our community.

“The draft plan started out with a $7.6 million deficit in the general fund. Our proposed final budget is a $3.2 million deficit. So that’s a good start but I do acknowledge that we have a long way to go yet.”

Some of the significant community projects that will be undertaken during the 2020-21 year include:

  • Sealing of Point Plomer Road ($3.4m)
  • South West Rocks High Performance Centre ($2.7m) – subject to additional funding contributions
  • Verge/Eden sports complex implementation of Masterplan ($2m)
  • Major roads including South West Rocks ($1.15m), Plummers Lane ($1.87m) and Stuarts Point Road ($1.35m)
  • Armidale Road safety improvements ($655k)
  • Airport apron hardstand with fuel water interceptor ($730k)
  • Clyde Street Mall car park renewal ($889k)
  • Parks improvements such as Smithtown Nestlé Park ($208k) and Willawarrin playground replacement ($179k) and Willawarrin showground ($221k)
  • Kempsey Library upgrade ($461k)
  • Crescent Head cabin replacement program ($1.85m)
  • Crescent Head Water Treatment Plant ($3.62m)
  • Willawarrin Water Treatment Plant ($574k)
  • Steuart McIntyre Dam Emergency Water Treatment Plant ($2m)
  • South Kempsey Pressure Sewer ($2.2m)
  • Construction of a new cell at Waste Management Centre ($1m)

for some projects the listed capital expenditure amount represents only the 2020-21 portion of that project’s total investment.

Several significant projects have not been incorporated into the 2020-21 integrated planning documents, due to the recent timing of grant funding announcements. These projects will be addressed in the September Quarterly Budget Review and include:

  • Sealing of Maria River Road (a joint $17m project with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council)
  • South West Rocks Road (between Kinchela and Jerseyville) rehabilitation and resurfacing project ($2m)
  • Rural Road heavy patching and resealing program ($935k)

In total, the 2020-21 financial year will see Council continue to deliver a large program of work, including $20.4m on the ongoing maintenance and renewal of sealed and unsealed roads, $14.4 million on maintenance and capital improvements to sewer services and $18.8 million on water supply operations, maintenance and capital improvements.

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