SHOALHAVEN City Council would not have had to increase rates if had learnt to manage its cash flow properly, according to Cr Andrew Guile.
Cr Guile was responding to revelations that while council had turned around a projected deficit in the 2012-13 financial year, it had also failed to spend almost $16 million in allocated funds for the same period.
“The self-congratulatory comments of the Mayor concerning Shoalhaven City Council’s budget performance gloss over a core failure in the council’s financial management,” Cr Guile said.
“There is nothing challenging or difficult about balancing a small deficit, which was of the current Council’s making, especially when you have failed to spend $15.8 million of grants and rate revenue on essential projects.”
The $15.8 million in unspent funds amounts to almost seven times the projected $2.3 million in extra revenue from the 8.1 per cent rate rise imposed recently by council.
“This $15.8 million was earmarked for spending on projects like local road repairs and community facilities and at the end of the year it was just sitting there, still waiting to be spent,” Cr Guile said.
“This is not a new problem for Shoalhaven City Council but at least they had been reduced by half at the end of June last year and now they have blown out to concerning levels.
“Those of us who had opposed the increased tax grab from council have been consistent in showing that even if we collected the extra revenue, the chances are that we could not spend it. These figures released by council staff show that to be true,” he said.
Cr Guile dismissed Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash’s threat to employ contractors if council staff could not complete the jobs for which funds had been allocated.
“They’ve already got contractors doing these jobs,” he said.
“It’s a fallacious argument. It’s one thing to talk tough but the real issue is how we manage to deliver on time and when the money is available.”
Cr Guile said that rather than raise rates, council needed to better manage its cash flow and proportionately fund projects until they reached the completion stage.