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Council finances get tick of approval

Gunnedah Shire Council has released its annual report for 2013-14 in the same week auditors gave the shire’s finances a clean bill of health.
Nanjing Night Net

Council’s financial officer Kim Chua told the November council meeting all council’s ratios met local government benchmarks.

The council received an unqualified audit.

“In the words of the auditors, we are in very good stead. We are in the top 10 to 20 per cent of all councils.”

Gunnedah Shire Council is measured against benchmarks set for a band of councils of similar sizes.

Auditors UHY Haines Norton Chartered Accountants noted a council surplus of $5.069million, including grants and contributions, $822,000 higher than the year before.

Gunnedah Mayor Owen Hasler.

The surplus was helped along by a nine per cent increase ($1.177 million) in rates and annual charges, and a 21 per cent increase ($1.75 million) in user charges and fees.

The rates and annual charges income was boosted by the special rate variation the council has implemented.

The value of council’s net assets increased by $6.897 million to more than $333 million, and borrowings were up $4.614 million to $5.996 million.

Councillors also applauded the highlights of the annual report.

“This report is something we should be proudly providing to the community to make sure the community is aware of the efforts of this council,” Gunnedah mayor Owen Hasler told council.

“I think we are doing very well based on both the auditor’s report and the annual report.”

Deputy mayor Gae Swain said it was a good effort, particularly considering the “huge, huge turnover of information, and in some cases, of staff”.

General manager Eric Groth said the past financial year had been the biggest period of change he had seen during his 17 years in local government.

He said it had also been one of the “highest periods of achievement” he had seen during that time.

“I ask the community to recognise the achievements of staff,” Mr Groth said.

“They are people who live in this community with you, and they care as much about the community as you do.”

Among the highlights listed in the annual report were recurrent savings of more than $500,000 under council’s efficiency program, implementation of 61 out of the 67 actions in the Blackadder Review (with the rest to be completed this financial year)and negotiation of in principle voluntary planning agreements with Whitehaven and Shenhua.

“The achievement of significant savings by council was achieved by an organisation-wide efficiency target required to be met by managers, and establishment of a savings project team,” the report noted.

It said council had delivered two per cent – or $480,000 – in savings.

“Items included in these savings include the removal and non-replacement of a senior mangement position, the director community and corporate services, as part of a restructure, reduction in the number of vehicles held by council, changes to telephone systems, relocation of the Visitor Information Centre and a number of other efficiency initiatives,” the report said.

“These were achieved without negatively impacting upon service delivery. In a number of these instances, council has in fact been able to enhance service delivery at a reduced cost.”

• 139 development applications were lodged valued at $23.339 million

• 9013 visitors attended the Visitor Information Centre in 2013-14 – about 24 visitors a day, or three per hour

• Council received 1463 customer requests

• From January 2013 to October 2014, the gunnedah.nsw.gov.au website had 94,094 visitors

• 118,248 livestock were sold at the saleyards

• There were 32 recipients of the Gunnedah Community Scholarship Fund

• 1632 students took part in school holiday programs

• 57 dogs were re-homed

• 44 food premises were inspected

• The library circulated 34,694 books to 5138 members

• 13,217 people went to the movies

• The Community Transport Service completed 12,744 trips

• 14,326 tonnes of waste to the waste management facility

• 2291 tonnes of recycling for re-use and 1303 tonnes of green waste went to the waste management facility

• Council maintains 34 recreation parks and seven sporting fields

• There have been three-four major subdivision applications in the past 18 months

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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