There can be no question about it. The General Manager has, by way of the audit report, told us we are fit for the future. (Local media Wednesday 30 November 2016).
In a nutshell we built our wealth by the sum of $116,323 over the last year. This means every ratepayer has an extra $4. And if there are four people per family you get a dollar per person. What a result.
We got more money coming in as funds were up by $61 million. This was in part due to the grants from the State Government up an extra $50 million. So presumably we raised an extra $11 million by ourselves. Well we know where some $5 million came from because they put the rates up.
If you look at it there are some 30,000 rate payers in the area who paid some $81 million in rates. I have used round figures for the sake of convenience. So on average every ratepayer contributes $2700 per annum. This is for rates and annual charges. It does not include the costs a ratepayer incurs for say the consumption of water (apart from the annual cost of providing the service).
So with 30,000 ratepayers and $6 million surplus it means we all pay $200 a year in charges. Now this is only for water and I am sure most of you will have immediately multiplied your quarterly water bill and found it to be in excess of $200 per annum. But this is a little unfair because council would have included the “forecast income ” in their calculations. It is not necessarily all surplus monies.
Council try to say they are efficient because they spend $1.2 million less this year. Strange but they have $1.2 million in retained earnings. So does this mean they had planned to spend the money but did not get around to it? Does this mean they are not as efficient as they might have us believe?
Further did anyone notice no mention was made of the re-vote (see earlier council meeting)? This is money council included in its plans for last year. They planned to spend this money but did not get around to it. They fell $19 million short. So if they have $1.2 million in retained funds it looks as though $17.8 million was diverted to unplanned works. Does this make them efficient?
I forgot if a council is fit for the future it gets preferential access to grants. But according to the auditor the increase was largely due to the State Government grant for the Pacific Highway bypass. Does this mean the future bypass ? Has council somehow used this money or should our equity reflect this payment? Yes the equity rose by $116,000 but is that all you can generate from $50 million. That is a return on investment of 0.2 of a percentage.
But if we planned to spend $19 million and only have funds of $1.2 million what did we spend $17.8 on? Was it on unplanned work?
Perhaps council just made the figures look good. Retained earnings $1.2 million and/or a decrease in expenditure could mean that we are paying our way? Can we tick the box and claim to be fit for the future? As the General Manager said the Auditor General will conduct the next audit….. from this financial year. So what? We are ready in this financial year General Manager, or did you not know that, so why is it necessary to make this statement. I see, you think that this is being open and transparent do you? By the way does the Auditor General do an audit every year? Or are we under some form of special scrutiny?
It is a worry given the release from the IPART the other day. Rate pegging will be at a reduced rate so does that mean council will need to put in another variation to rate levels? Council just told us we got more money and spent less.
It seems that to be efficient the council has to be inefficient otherwise it cannot achieve the result it got. For if the council was efficient, and spent the full amount planned, we would have a huge deficit. And that would make us inefficient. If we were inefficient we would not be fit for the future. This is a paradox. So what say you Council?
Author Con. Fused
“paradox” a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory. Well done Con just the sort of statement that emanates from the office of the General Manager. ..Hugh