MidCoast councillors to tackle multi-million dollar deficit

MidCoast Council administrator John Turner says “councillors must think strategically, over a long period of time for the whole area.”
MidCoast Council administrator John Turner says “councillors must think strategically, over a long period of time for the whole area.”

MidCoast Council predicts it will be short around $12 million as it looks to the capital works, projects and services it must deliver in 2017-18.

The projected operating deficit of $12,950,879 or $11,234,553 comes as council factors in approval of the proposed Special Rate Variation that could boost rates and annual charges revenue from a projected $88,733,245 to $91,194,910.

The projected revenue does not take into account harmonisation of the rate structure of the three former local government areas, as transitional arrangements still apply and may remain the case for a further three years, according to council’s operational plan.

It will be the job of 11 MidCoast councillors to make decisions that will improve the budget bottom line and administrator John Turner says “councillors must think strategically, over a long period of time for the whole area.”

“Councillors are there to represent the community. Sure, they are there to receive complaints about pot holes and missed rubbish, but they are elected to council to think strategically in a business-like manner to ensure councils assets are preserved and grow and that the revenue is strategically applied to enhance the services and assets of the total council area,” Mr Turner said.

“Residents may have a desire to stand for council because they can better deliver what a particular section of the community wants. This is commendable, however councillors, and an elected council, must retain a primary focus upon the strategic operations of the organisation.

The role is a bit like a board of a public company in that regard. They are not able to be involved in the day to day running of the council or the council’s operational areas such as which road needs fixing or instruct staff on matters.

John Turner

“The day to day operational activities and staffing aspects of councils are handled by the general manager of council and staff.

“Many people stand for council on a single local issue, again commendable, but for council to operate efficiently, parochialism is counter-productive.”

Mr Turner said under the Integrated Planning and Reporting provisions of the Local Government Act, councillors were responsible for delivering the Community Strategic Plan, the Delivery Program and the Operational Plan.