Council budget takes a massive hit
COFFS Harbour City Council's budget for 2012/13 was already projected for a deficit but now the financial hole has grown.
Correspondance to Council from the NSW Local Government Grants Commission advised of a reduction in the Financial Assistance Grant funds expected for the current financial year.
The reduction amount is $277,936.
Add this to the deficit of $308,365 Council had already budgeted for in 2012/13 and suddenly further pressure is placed on Council's already tight fiscal constraints.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades said the reduction in Financial Assistance Grant funds will make it difficult for Council for the remainder of the financial year.
"It's not that it makes it hard it just means projects won't get done," Cr Rhoades said.
At this stage of the year, it is too early to determine potential budget savings that may offset the projected deficit although in previous years Council has had success in reducing budget deficits by year end.
The Mayor said the original amount that is budgeted is based on what he calls a "guestimate" made by the Federal Government.
Each year's financial assistance grant recommendations are based on forward estimates of the consumer price index (CPI) and population shares across states.
Councils across NSW have been affected by the re-calculations with more than $52 million in reductions made in this state alone.
Cr Rhoades has a proposal for the Federal Government ministers that he is often in contact with but he's not confident of that proposal being accepted.
"Why don't they just write off the $52 million across NSW as a mistake and leave it where it is?" he asked.
"That way there's $52 million available across the state.
"They spent $45 million on trying to get some soccer games intop the country, they can leave $52 million in NSW to help pay to get projects done. I don't think it will happen though."
At tonight's final Council meeting before the September 8 election, Councillors are expected to vote in favour of making representations to Federal Minister Simon Crean about the foreshadowed loss of revenue and its impact on Council.