Merger hits coffers hard

A $22.9 million net operating surplus for the 2019 financial year, isn’t quite the good result it first seems, warns Cumberland Councillor Michael Zaiter.

Failed to yield benefits

Commenting on the council’s 2018-19 annual report, Cr Zaiter said after deductions for one-off profits on the sale of assets and other adjustments, the actual budget position was a deficit of $6.2 million.
“From an accounting position, it looks rosy but hard decisions will need to be made from next year onwards,” he said.
“A budget deficit simply means that our council is not earning enough revenue to cover our operating expenditure.
“Over the past three financial years, we have had to utilise our cash reserves to cover the shortfall.
“If we as a council are to remain viable, the structural problem with our current budget needs to be addressed immediately as we are quickly running out of unrestricted cash reserves.”
Cr Zaiter says that means he and his fellow councillors will need to take “a hard look at our current service offerings to determine what services are core council business and what services are not”.
While supporting Cr Zaiter’s comments, Cr Glenn Elmore said the “huge benefits” promised prior to council amalgamations hadn’t really happened and the council needed to either get more income or make cuts somewhere.
“I don’t envy the general manager, he’s got some work to do,” he said.