A tick for council budget and a look at the year's spending

Forbes Shire Council Town Hall.
Forbes Shire Council Town Hall.

Forbes Shire Council's financial reports have been given the auditor's tick of approval.

John O'Malley from Intentus Chartered Accountants presented the 2018-2019 operating results to councillors at last Thursday's November council meeting.

The council recorded a $4 million surplus when capital funding was included, an $873,000 deficit without those capital grants contributions.

Mr O'Malley described the results as good news for council, and said the Forbes shire is performing within all the Office of Local Government benchmarks.

He explained the ratios used to compare councils beginning with the operating performance ratio, a measure of whether the council has stuck to its budget.

Forbes Shire Council has "pretty much hit the target area over a three-year period," Mr O'Malley said. It's been slightly above and slightly below the zero benchmark line.

"The trend is that we are not overspending, so encouragement there," Mr O'Malley said.

Forbes is "comfortably out-performing" the benchmark for liquidity, or how quickly and easily it can pay its bills.

It's also performing well on the third benchmark Mr O'Malley highlighted, the level of outstanding rates and charges.

Forbes had eight per cent of rates and charges outstanding at the end of the financial year, down on previous years and below the 10 per cent benchmark.

That is contrary to current trend, Mr O'Malley said, describing it as quite a good outcome.

"Not surprisingly, with extended drought it's been more the case that that's starting to tail upwards, that collecting debts is becoming a little bit more challenging because people simply don't have as much flowing in," he said.

And for a final tick of approval, council is also considered to have invested well in its infrastructure maintenance.

The spending has been fairly substantial, Mr O'Malley said, $11.3 million of asset renewal (that was an increase from $10.55 million in the 2017-2018 financial year).

The Office of Local Government looks for council spending on infrastructure to match its depreciation and council is outperforming that.

In addition, $5.28 million was spent on new infrastructure: $4.5 million on road infrastructure and $1.1 million on water infrastructure.

A more detailed report to the council meeting outlines some of the big ticket items:

  • $3.113 million - Central West Livestock Exchange expansion
  • $2.23 million - Road re-sheeting, reseals and other shoulder and pavement works on rural local roads
  • $1.84 million - Sewer-related capital works
  • $1.67 million - Homemaker Centre expansion
  • $1.39 million - Plant replacement
  • $751,000 - Water capital projects
  • $656,000 - Netball complex redevelopment
  • $522,000 - Kerb and guttering and footpaths
  • $484,000 - Rural regional roads
  • $475,000 - Road works in town

Mr O'Malley acknowledged Forbes Shire Council's long-serving Chief Financial Officer Ian Prior for the timely completion of the end-of-year financial statements.

Forbes' statements were the 21st in the state - of 128 councils - to be lodged.

"It's been a good working relationship," he said.