Livingstone Council finances put under the microscope
LIVINGSTONE Shire's financial state is currently being put under the microscope by Council and the community it governs.
Mayor Bill Ludwig said despite significant challenges, which included inheriting approximately $76.2 million of Regional Council debt, having to pay for the full cost of de-amalgamation as well as the financial cost of TC Marcia and other significant weather events, Council has stayed focused and moved forward.
"Over the past four years Council has secured State and Federal funding and other grant commitments currently totalling up to approximately $130 million for infrastructure and major projects that will have a positive impact on our Shire and its economic well-being for generations to come. Importantly, the grants secured have paid for on average between 50% to 75% of the total cost of the projects undertaken,” Cr Ludwig said.
"Projects have ranged from enabling trunk infrastructure like roads, water and sewerage needed to support our forecasted longer-term growth, to the Yeppoon and Emu Park foreshore revitalisation to rebuild our tourism industry and the establishment of the new Gateway Business and Industry Precinct to attract new diversified industries and job opportunities.”
Cr Ludwig said other major projects have seen the establishment of new and expansion of existing sporting complexes, improved community amenities, introduction of smart technology and the soon to be constructed Capricorn Coast Homemakers Centre.
"Combined these projects will enhance our lifestyle and create new job opportunities by supporting and helping grow existing business and industry as well as providing the catalyst needed to attract future private sector and Government investment,” he said.
"This level of infrastructure delivery has also played a major role in generating construction jobs and stimulating the local economy at a time when it has been most needed.
"Council has now progressively been turning its focus on consolidation of our Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP). Work undertaken and currently underway has included refining our budget processes, better cost estimates, improved projections, re-establishment of long-term funding reserves and increase efficiency of council operations to reduce operating costs.
"Other initiatives will be exploring new revenue sources to reduce reliance on rates revenue, review of service levels to ensure they are sustainable and reflect community needs, along Council's rating methodology and opportunities to smooth the impact of valuation changes on individual ratepayers.
Cr Ludwig said debt wise at the end of this financial year after having covered the estimated $10 million in associated de-amalgamation costs and delivery of capital projects totaling more than $165 million. "Our corresponding debt level has only increased by $19.1 million and is forecast to reduce progressively from $95.4 million to $49.9 million over the 10 year forecast period,” he said.
"With appropriate discipline Council is on-track to build long-term financial sustainability, resilience and an organisation which is flexible, agile and able to meet the needs of our growing community.”