Rates rebate, virus relief force $7M budget shortfall
FOR the first time since at least 2012, the Fraser Coast Regional Council is running at a loss.
Mayor George Seymour said in his budget delivery speech that a $7 million deficit was forecast for 2020/21.
Cr Seymour said it was the first time since he joined the council in 2012 that a deficit was recorded.
He said the economic hit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic was the cause.
The council’s efforts to keep rates low and provide $100 rates rebates for owner/occupiers also contributed to the deficit, he said.
“The budget is framed to keep rates as low as possible. That’s why we’re running a deficit,” he said.
“We could run a surplus if we just increased rates.
Cr Seymour said the council was in a strong financial decision despite the deficit.
“This is why we run a surplus nine years out of 10 so that in difficult times like this, we have the flexibility to deal with issues beyond our control such as a worldwide pandemic,” he said.
“The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have spread right throughout society and the council has not been immune.
“We’re tackling this financial challenge head on though, and will do everything we can to minimise the burden on residents while still in vesting in the quality services and infrastructure our growing community needs.”
Cr Seymour said the council was taking a $3 million hit to its revenue, providing $3 million in rates concessions and setting aside $1 million for further COVID-19 relief measures.
This $1 million is additional to the council’s coronavirus relief package, announced in March.
Exactly how these funds will be used is yet to be determined, subject to community needs.