After years of hard work to identify efficiency gains whilst maintaining a high level of service to the community, the City of Greater Geraldton’s budget has reached surplus.
At last night’s Ordinary Meeting of Council, the City’s operating result was reported to be sitting at $3.2 million in surplus with an underlying surplus of over $145,000 after allowing for prepaid grants.
City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said it was a big win for Council who had been working hard for years to find efficiency gains to pave the way for a bright financial future for the City.
“Two years ago we had an operating deficit over $9 million and financial sustainability was projected to be at least 10 years off,” he said.
“It’s been a rewarding journey and it’s great to see that the City is back on track and has ended years of operating losses.”
Mayor Van Styn said while the financial position of the City was a huge win for the organisation, it was not a time for Council to be frivolous with spending.
“We are still budgeting for a deficit of $1.2 million this year and we need to continue to work hard to achieve sustainable surpluses,” he said.
“We still have a backlog of asset renewals so we need to continue to be smart with our long-term financial planning to ensure we can still offer key services to our community whilst keeping up with infrastructure renewals.”
The City has also dramatically lifted its FHI score from being in the bottom 20% to possibly the top 20% of Councils within Western Australia on the Department of Local Government’s Financial Health Indicator (FHI) calculator.
The FHI Calculator is the current benchmark measurement of a Council’s overall financial health.
“The FHI calculator enables us to measure our overall financial health and this information assists in our long term financial planning,” Mayor Van Styn said.
“The City’s operating financial position has improved significantly as a result of the flow on effect of cost saving initiatives that Council has undertaken over the last few years including changes to organisational structure, staffing levels and our range and level of services.
“Council’s score progressed from 53 in 2015-16 to 87 in 2016-17 and is projected to increase even more in the next financial year.”
Mayor Van Styn also commented on the City’s positive audit result.
“There were no specific comments and/or recommendations arising from the audit which is extremely rare and indicates the fine work, commitment and knowledge from the City’s Finance team,” he added.