THERE are two major factors to consider when determining Livingstone's long-term debt management strategies. The first factor is Queensland Treasury Corporation and local government financial experts have already confirmed the new Livingstone council will be in a stronger financial position than Rockhampton.
The second fact is that position is being underpinned by strong growth, relatively new infrastructure and, thanks to prudent management by successive Livingstone councils, the capacity of existing infrastructure can comfortably meet the needs of our projected growth.
When it comes to financial benchmarks, the QTC has given Livingstone a positive report card moving forward. It clearly indicates the new council will have the capacity to comfortably manage the debt it is inheriting from RRC.
According to QTC estimates the new council will be starting with its accounts in healthy position. With our growth, prudent management, and a focus on securing major state and federal grants that position can only continue to improve.
From an accounting perspective our debt ratios are sound. Further, council is in the position to appropriately spread the cost of debt repayment over the operational life of its long-term assets.
THE management of council debt is certainly an issue of significance in the ongoing management of the de-amalgamated shire.
As you may know, when the Livingstone shire was annexed to the Rockhampton City Council the shire had a debt of about $30m. Now as the de-amalgamation dust settles, it appears that a debt of almost $71m will be registered to the shire. I cannot ponder how the level of debt has grown out of all proportion but I would think it is a product of people with a lack business knowledge in the real world, coupled with an inability to prioritise spending and at the same time register responsibility for their actions.
Notwithstanding, we are faced with a real challenge.
There are a number of strategies I will bring to the council table.
As I have said previously, there must be development to ensure jobs in the area and secure a future for our children and the generation to come.
I believe we must call on developers to undertake additional responsibilities in assisting with growth of our infrastructure and supporting council.
This is not so abstract and is occurring at other centres across the state.
I will also be prioritising our council spend and applying funding for community based benefit. We need controlled and sustainable development.
RESPONSIBLE debt management will be the key to ensuring the dynamic longterm future of Livingstone Shire Council, without responsible debt management there will be no opportunity for future growth of the shire.
Council is just like any other business and it must be able to meet its financial commitments while still having a plan to take the business forward.
The first 12 months of Livingstone Shire Council will be a tough challenge with $10m to be repaid as part of the de-amalgamation cost, however, the upside to this is once this is done we will know we can meet our financial commitments and will be able to plan a future for the residents and rate payers that is dynamic, prosperous and a great place to do business, work and play.
I have strong business acumen and community focus through my former role with Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service.
I offer the community a fresh set of eyes and enthusiasm.