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Budget Plans and Cash Reserves

Written by: Councillor Greg Armstrong

Greg Armstrong
Greg Armstrong

Over the next few months, Council will be receiving and reviewing a number of very important documents that will have an impact on Council decision making into the future.

The annual budget is being developed to ensure that Council is able to deliver services within its means. This is in many ways greatly similar to the many households throughout the Hilltops, where honest, hard-working Australians attempt to provide some economic certainty for their loved ones as they go about their daily business.

Council budgets are developed by staff and presented to Council over the Council meeting table, for many families in the Hilltops the kitchen table is used for the same purpose. The common denominator being a desire for both processes to hopefully deliver a small surplus. For many people, a surplus is realised as savings or cash at the bank for use at a later time. Council is no different in this respect and has significant funds set aside for future new projects, asset renewals and projects which have been started and not yet completed.

Where special funding needs exist, Council is able to seek a special rate variation, such variation allows for an “above the rate peg” increase of the General Rate, significantly, the community must be given the opportunity to comment on any such proposal, thus ensuring that the funds collected are genuinely needed for specific purposes and that there is broad community support for such purpose.

A great example of funds which have been collected for specific future projects with a genuine need is the Young Town Stormwater Levy. This charge was introduced by the former Young Shire Council to generate a pool of funds which would finance a comprehensive flood study and desperately needed upgrades to the Young drainage network in order to reduce inundation risks during periods of exceptional and heavy rainfall.

The Local Government Act and Local Government Regulation limit the lawful use of such funds, and in essence, require that they should be used for the purpose that they were collected and may not be used for normal maintenance works.

Similar limitations are placed on Grant funds which have been given to Council for projects, these funds are referred to as being “Externally Restricted.” This ensures that the funds are spent on the projects or purposes for which they were sought and supplied.

Council’s also put funds aside from general operating revenue to fund future operating needs such ass plant replacements, employee leave entitlements, incomplete works, infrastructure renewals and other non-grant funded items. These funds are considered to be “Internally Restricted” and may be moved between purposes by resolution of Council. Any cash which is not Externally Restricted or Internally Restricted is considered to be Unrestricted.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all recipients of 2019 Australia Day honours, your contribution is valued and deserving of recognition, a big thank you must go out to all those that assisted in, or attended an Australia Day Ceremony on the 26th of January.

Have a great weekend and travel safely. Councillor Greg Armstrong

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