For Immediate Release 04/11/2021
Authorised by Anthony O’Reilly
Hilltops Council takes measures toward financial sustainability
Council has undertaken a systematic and in depth review of its operations and cash flow. We have attempted to streamline processes with a view meeting the expected level of service to the community.
Council’s cash reserves have been depleted through years of losses prior to capital grants. Capital grants are one off contributions allocated by State and Federal Governments to assist in the provision of community assets such as roads, sporting facilities and public amenities. The rates, fees and charges paid by residents to ensure we can finance our day to day operations are simply not enough to cover what it costs to run those operations.
What is clear now, after workshops with Councillors and an analysis of the current situation, is the way that Council currently operates is not sustainable.
The draft Financial Statement results for 2020/21 showed a Council operational result before capital grants improvement from a loss of $(10.6)M in 2020 to $(5.9)M in 2021, a reduction of expenditure of $4.7M. This was primarily due to $2M decreases in employee costs coupled with materials and contracts based on efficiency objectives. This was also due to the capitalisation of $4.9M of wages for capital works carried out.
At the Ordinary Council Meeting held last Wednesday, a report was provided to Council which provided options on measures that can be taken to become financially sustainable.
After careful consideration of the report, Council resolved the following:
- Authorise the General Manager to implement an immediate recruitment freeze allowing only for recruitment of essential positions
- Commence a review to minimise the use of consultants and contractors to maximise internal efficiency and contain costs
- Commence a formal consultation process with the local government unions and staff to consider options that would allow a reduction in total employment costs, in a manner consistent with clause 41 of the Local Government (State) Award 2020
- Commence discussion with the community regarding levels of service within Council’s policies and financial limitations
- Immediately identify assets suitable for divestment purposes for Council to consider in a confidential report
- Following the Local Government elections, immediately commence discussions regarding the consideration of a Special Rate Variation to be enacted in the 2024 financial year.
These measures will mean that the community may notice some changes when interacting with Council. In line with this while we are undertaking a review of our service delivery there will be a short closure of the Harden Office each day between the hours of 12pm and 1pm. While the office will be closed for this one hour period each day, Council can still be contacted via phone and email during these times. This change will come into effect next week from Monday 8 November 2021.
We acknowledge the challenges we face to become financially sustainable and by working together we can meet these challenges.
1300 445 586