SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has voted unanimously to adopt the strategies outlined in its 2018/19 Long Term Financial Plan.
“This is a good story for Council,” Cr Andrew McEwen declared.
“We were in a very difficult position in 2003 and with the assistance of one of our former officers we developed a long-term financial plan strategy.
“We were years ahead of most councils. Most councils had a three-year plan. We had a longer-term plan. We built in principles in the plan that renewed our assets and made us financially stable and secure.”
Cr McEwen said the Council was “self-financing” and had “paid down our indebtedness”.
“We’ve done that, we’ve achieved that. A really good part of that process is that we’re one of the few councils with 100 per cent asset renewal funded,” he said.
“Through our financial infrastructure and long-term capital works plan, we’ve provided for additional infrastructure to maintain the standards required. It is important these things are done, because it gives Council the opportunity to promote the area and the infrastructure.”
He listed Foster’s rejuvenation as one of the “strategic investments” achieved through Council’s healthy financial position.
“They can only occur because we’ve been financially prudent,” he said.
Cr Alyson Skinner said Council “faced some significant financial challenges” in 2003 and since then had battled through the Global Financial Crisis in 2008/09; Unfunded superannuation funding calls in 2003, 2010 and 2013; the Commonwealth Government’s freezing the level of financial assistance grants provided to local government for three years to 2016/17; and the State Government introducing rate capping in 2016/17. She praised Council’s finance team for all its good work.
Critics have complained that while Council is in a strong financial position, little has been done to lift the burden on ratepayers.