PAGE 1: The NewsMail's front page on Wednesday.
PAGE 1: The NewsMail's front page on Wednesday. Jay Fielding

Mayor hits back over report on Bundy council finances

BUNDABERG Mayor Jack Dempsey has responded to a report tabled in Queensland Parliament this week that suggested local councils failed to plan for the long-term sustainability of their regions.

The report was the result of an audit undertaken by the Queensland Audit Office investigating the confidence in long-term financial forecasts of all Queensland councils, as detailed in Wednesday's NewsMail..

Mr Dempsey said although the Bundaberg Regional Council was not one of the five councils subjected to a detailed examination, the report showed the information provided by the council had scored incredibly well against key criteria of sustainability for the 2016-25 forecast.

He said it was a strong endorsement of council's financial management.

The report considered councils' operating surplus ratio, asset sustainability ratio and net financial liabilities ratio.

"I am pleased to say that we performed well in all areas,” Cr Dempsey said.

"Council is operating at a 5% surplus, unlike many other councils which are operating at a loss,” he said.

"We have one of the highest, sound operating surplus rates among councils our size.

"This surplus is reinvested into community infrastructure, services and facilities.”

"The report shows that over the forecast years the average asset sustainability ratio is over 135% which is well above the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning's minimum benchmark of 90%.

"The ratio measures the level of expenditure on renewing existing assets compared to depreciation expense and takes no notice of expenditure on building new assets.

"In future years, it is likely the ratio will trend downwards as council's requirement to renew existing assets reduces, while building infrastructure assets, such as the Rubyanna Waste Water Treatment Plant and the Multiplex,” the mayor said.

"This is not a bad thing. It simply represents a reduction in expenditure on renewing existing assets while we are constructing new ones. In fact, the Auditor General's report provides legitimacy to this approach.”

He said the council was no longer spending at the high rate it was because flooding. The report also showed only 3.18% went towards debt.



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