Council's 2008 deficit well below expected

A CLEAN bill of financial health is always a relief, especially for a council in these volatile financial times.

Bellingen Shire Council received just that yesterday when its long-time auditor, Robert Finch of Forsyths Armidale, presented the 2007-2008 audited accounts to the councillors.

Mr Finch reported the council had finished the financial year with an operating deficit of $595,000, which was well below the budgeted deficit of $1.4 million.

He said the council's decision last year to get out of its managed investment funds had proven to be prudent given the volatility that followed.

“It's pleasing to see you have been protected to some extent,” Mr Finch said.

He described the council's working capital of $1.3 million as reasonable but not excessive and within the range that was needed to cover its day-to-day operating expenses.

The council's percentage of outstanding rates had increased by one per cent from the previous year to 7.7 per cent. Mr Finch described this as being within the norm for councils of a similar size but a trend that should be restricted.

Having 41 per cent of its annual income coming from rates, he said, was not a problem but it might indicate the council was missing out on grant opportunities.

The general manager, Mike Colreavy, said the council, together with Nambucca Shire Council, had now jointly employed a grants officer to try to source as many potential grants as possible.



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