Time to look at council budgets, financial management

This time of year, most prudent councils begin to formulate their annual budget for the coming financial year. Goyder Council must develop its budget with regard to its strategic and business plans, and initially meet its responsibility to fund ongoing infrastructure and asset maintenance programs, in line with its long term plans.

Council also needs to appropriately fund the administrative sector of the organisation to enable staff to implement the actions of the budget. Council always has a pool of accumulated projects and takes responsibility to prioritise these in accordance with the perceived maximum public benefit. It also considers setting money aside to couple with external grants where they offer appropriate community benefit.

Goyder’s policy has been to set aside 3 per cent of rate revenue to fund small grants to community and sporting organisations, to assist these groups and their endeavours. This program encourages our diverse communities to manage their own affairs, and run their organisations autonomously.

Diligent in its decision making process, council is committed to ensuring all projects and programs receive the appropriate level of funding to be sustainable and effective. The process of rating requires council to set differential rates in a fair and equitable manner that, in turn, deliver the required dollars to fund the budget.

As a council we are mindful that we are managing public funds, both local and federal, under the Financial Assistance grants; and continue to review practices to seek the most efficient ways to deliver services in a prudent, efficient and sustainable manner.

Effective fiscal responsibility can only be met by sustained discipline by councillors and staff, coupled with monthly reporting of the financial circumstances of council; rather than the quarterly reporting required under the Act. Monthly reporting allows council to identify any possible over expenditures and cost ‘blow-outs’ in a timely manner, and to act at the right time to remedy any impacts these might cause.

Historically it has not been the practice of Goyder to engage in deficit budgeting. However, in challenging times, such as we face in the current drought; it is both fair and reasonable that it look to assist its residents with an extremely low, or no rate increase for the coming financial year.

Peter Mattey

Mayor, Regional Council of Goyder

Chairman, The Legatus Group