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Draft budget to deliver significant savings

Bland Shire Council last night adopted a draft Operational Plan and budget which will deliver around $1.6 million in savings in the next financial year.

The draft Operational Plan and budget, which is currently on exhibition for public comment up until May 26, has a projected operational surplus of $1,672,830.00 in 2015-2016 despite an overall projected paper deficit of $4.3 million.

In percentage terms this is a 28 per cent reduction in Council’s deficit from 2014/15.

While Council expects to register a healthy cash profit in 2015-2016, a change to financial reporting practices as required by the State Government will result in a paper deficit which accounts for the full depreciation of Council roads and assets.

The draft budget includes total depreciation of $5.9 million.

With the second largest road network of any Council in New South Wales, aging community infrastructure and a relatively small rate base, Bland Shire Council General Manager, Ray Smith said it is unlikely Bland Shire Council will ever achieve a paper surplus under the current financial reporting system.

However, he said it is crucial Council continue to demonstrate increased savings and improved efficiencies in order to work towards the benchmarks set by the State Government in its arduous “Fit for the Future” model for Local Government reform.

Councils who cannot meet the Fit for the Future guidelines or demonstrate they are conscientiously working towards them face an uncertain future which may include amalgamation and loss of identity.

“To enable us to mount a strong case to the State Government under the Fit for the Future model, Council has been forced to tighten the belt,” Mr Smith said.

“Council has undertaken a comprehensive internal review of its operations which will deliver the projected savings of $1.6 million in the next financial year.

“The budget is a tough but responsible one, containing very limited capital expenditure, which will give Bland Shire Council the best possible chance of long term survival.”

Mr Smith said there are no immediate job losses planned to help deliver the projected savings, however some positions may not be replaced after staff leave Council.

Council’s draft Delivery Program, Revenue Policy, Workforce Assessment Plan and Strategy, Asset Management Plan and Long Term Financial Plan, were also adopted by Council for public comment at last night’s extraordinary meeting.

Public comment is invited up until 5pm on 26 May 2015 with all submissions to be considered prior to the formal adoption of the Community Strategic Plan at an Extraordinary meeting of Council scheduled for Tuesday 2 June 2015.