ALBURY Council chief Frank Zaknich has flagged an examination of its operations, aimed at curtailing a string of recent budget deficits.
Mr Zaknich, who began as general manager this week, said the council’s financial position was sound, but at some point its present debt level needed to be addressed.
“Council’s debt levels are below the benchmark and they will be manageable going forward,” he said.
“Council has good reserves of unrestricted cash, but again we are not in a position to be running deficits ongoing.
“The strategy going forward is to have a detailed review of service delivery and work with the council and community to see how all that aligns with the Albury 2030 plan.”
The most recent impact on the council’s budget was the decision to go ahead with the $10.5 million art gallery redevelopment.
The city’s initial contribution of $3.5 million rose $2.45 million last month.
In response, the council will consider rescheduling other projects funded by the special rate variation to minimise impacts on cashflow in the next two financial years.
Despite the extra commitment, Albury remains in the “good” category of the NSW Division of Local Government’s debt service ratio benchmarks of below 10 per cent.
The council’s stated medium-to-long-term financial objective is to achieve a surplus or break-even operating position.
Mr Zaknich attended a recent budget workshop before officially starting in his new role.
The council’s next budget will be handed down in May, he said.
“We will obviously be looking at some positive outcomes in terms of capital works and asset maintenance,” he said.
“But we are also mindful over the budget period we will be looking to decreasing the deficit.
“It is reasonably positive up front.
“The rates incomes is a good start in terms of the special rate variation to fund many of these high profile projects the council and community are interested in progressing.
“We want to continue to have Albury as a liveable regional city and it is well on the way to that.
“The challenge will be how we deliver that in a climate that is always difficult in terms of finance.”