The Bundaberg Regional Council's councillors' offices.
The Bundaberg Regional Council's councillors' offices. Mike Knott BUN020419BRC1

Top marks: Bundy council able to manage $25m debt increase

BUNDABERG Regional Council is in a strong enough financial position to manage its debt of $78.3million, according to a report released by the Queensland Audit Office.

In the last financial year, the council increased its debt to the Queensland Treasury by $25.5million to fund projects, increasing its average debt per person by $210.

According to the report tabled in State Parliament last week, the regional councils of Bundaberg and Cairns together represented 76 per cent of the total debt increase among Queensland councils last year.

Their financial liabilities were within the Department of Local Government's approval range, and the Bundaberg Regional Council considers the debts "relatively small” in comparison to its net assets.

"Both councils drew additional debt to fund significant capital works within their regions,” the audit report said.

Bundaberg Regional Council had a high rating in managing its operations budget, being in surplus about 10 per cent of the time, but it had a "moderate” rating when it came to the sustainability of its assets.

According to the council's 2017-18 Annual Report, the council tries to decrease its borrowing by finding grants and subsidies for major projects.

There had been a decrease of $2.7million in funding received by the council.

"Debt per capita has increased in the 2018 financial year due to the loan drawdown of $25.5million to fund such projects as the construction of the Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Cedars Road Landfill expansion and the Burnett Heads CBD Revitalisation,” the annual report said.

The debt per capita increased from $617 in 2016-17 to $827 in 2017-18.

A council spokeswoman said the next budget was expected to be released on June 21.

Councillor Steve Cooper, who holds the council's finance portfolio, said borrowing the money allowed the council to continue investing in projects that could improve the region's economy, such as the Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Cr Cooper said it was pleasing to see the council perform strongly in the recent audit for financial governance.

The council was recently awarded the top honour in the state for the LGM Liability Risk Management Excellence Awards.

"Bundaberg Regional Council was one of 13 councils assessed with the highest possible result from the Queensland Audit Office for financial governance,” Cr Cooper said.

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