SURPLUS SURPRISE: New figures in council budget preview
GLADSTONE Regional Council will take a multi-million-dollar operating surplus into the new financial year after finding extra funds in the budget over the past 12 months.
However the council's level of debt is expected to be $119.3m as at June 30 despite a reduction of 25.81 per cent since the current council was elected in March 2016.
The council's debt sat at $160.8m then, but mayor Matt Burnett expected that figure to be $119.3m once 2018/19 financial year figures were finalised.
At the beginning of 2018/19 that figure stood at $128.6m, marking a $9.3m reduction in debt during the past year.
Of that $9.3m, $3.4m was paid off in June.
"(The) council has drawn down no new borrowings in the current term and (the) council has made a consolidated effort to reduce borrowings," Cr Burnett said.
While debt has been reduced, the council's operating budget received a timely boost, increasing to $6.8m as at May 31.
"As at May 31 the financial statements showed a revised budget operating surplus of $6,806,609," Cr Burnett said.
"This surplus is based on the revised budget position for the end of June and will be subject to some amendment as the actual position is adjusted in accordance with year-end processes."
Cr Burnett was pleased with the increase after a surplus projection of $500,000.
"$0.5million was calculated as the projected operating result based on the assumptions and environment as known at time of budget adoption in July 2018," he said.
"Many factors have impacted the projected operating result for 2018/2019, as it currently stands, including a greater return to the community from dividends and tax equivalents from Gladstone Area Water Board.
"Savings in operational expenditure across all areas of council has contributed to the result."
The mayor said projections for June 30 next year would be included in the 2019/20 budget but said the "council is aiming for consecutive budget surpluses in addition to reduction of debt".
"The 2019/2020 budget will be released to the public on July 17 at (the) council's special budget meeting," Cr Burnett said.
Having spent 91.78 per cent of the budget as at May 31, Cr Burnett expected to spend "close to 100 per cent of the budget following the accrual of all costs against 2018/2019".
He has previously stated a desire to align any rate rises with local government CPI.