Council operates with $800,000 deficit

WELLINGTON Shire Council ran an operating deficit of more than $800,000, according to its quarterly finance interim report.

The deficit of $838,000 was below the budgeted deficit of $12.7 million. According to the interim report, income was higher than expected but expenditure was lower.

The final full financial year financial report is expected to be completed shortly. Council expected expenditure would exceed the adopted budget, mainly because of expenditure incurred from the flood and bushfire response and recovery.

At $44.2 million, rate income is $706,000 higher than the original budget mainly due to the finalisation of residential subdivisions and other valuations.

User charges and fees is $656,000 lower than budgeted at $5.76 million.

A decrease in commercial waste activities resulted in reduction of commercial tipping fees.

Also impacting revenue was lower than expected attendance at council leisure facilities such as Aqua Energy and the Gippsland Regional Sports Complex, and hiring of the Wellington Entertainment Centre.

Council did receive an increase in income from animal registration income and an unbudgeted $50,000 from fines associated with the council election.

With the receipt of grants for capital projects, council recorded a surplus of $8.7 million, well ahead of the $4.4 million deficit predicted in the 2012-13 budget.

The interim report showed council received $17.1 million in grants, $9.45 million more than budgeted. Council received 50 per cent of its 2013-14 Victoria Grants Commission allocation, $1.5 million for stage three of the Wellington Coast Subdivision Strategy and new external funding for a number of projects for the staffing of emergency programs, economic development projects and help with the implementation of the Fire Service Property Levy..

Of the 103 project included in the 2012-13 budget, it was reported 64 had been completed, 21 have begun, with the majority of those to be completed in July or August.

Twelve projects are either under contract, in pre-planning or are multi-year projects, such as the Yarram Hub, with delays mainly due to the wait for approvals or confirmation of designs.

Most of the remaining six projects were cancelled because council was unable to receive Timber Impacted Roads funding.

Construction of the new Glenmaggie Bridge was completed in April, two months ahead of schedule and under budget.

The construction of drainage in Commercial Rd, Yarram and Marley St, Sale were completed on schedule, as has works to renew the Sale central business district.

The West Sale Airport infrastructure upgrade has also been completed.

Contribution payments for the Wellington Coast Subdivision Strategy voluntary assistance program will be lower than expected as transfers were delayed during the planning scheme amendment process.

The completion of upgrades at the Rosedale Recreation Reserve was delayed with the project carried forward to the 2013-14 financial year.

Councillor Darren McCubbin said the report demonstrated a busy period for council.

“The actual deficit of something like $800,000 is within our guidelines and things are travelling along pretty well,” he said.