COVID-19 impacts Council's finances
Tuesday 23 June, 2020
Tamworth Regional Councillors at tonight’s Ordinary Meeting formally adopted the 2020/21 Annual Operational Plan while recognising the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Annual Operational Plan – which includes the Budget, Fees and Charges and Revenue Policy - sets out the projects, services and activities Council will deliver to the community in the year ahead.
Council voted to spend a total of $195.3 million across its general, water and sewer funds next financial year, and collect $71.9 million in income from rates and annual charges with plans to deliver $90.713 million in capital works to improve local facilities and infrastructure.
In adopting the 2020/21 budget Council also recognised the current economic volatility and uncertainty associated with COVID-19. Two other reports Councillors considered tonight showed the first actual financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – the Budget Variation Report for May 2020 and the Tamworth Regional Aquatic and Leisure Centre Project Update and COVID-19 Impact Report.
The Budget Variation Report for May 2020 reveals Council’s airport, entertainment venues and recreational facilities experienced “a sharp decline in in operational revenue while its operating expenditure has remained comparatively the same”.
It also showed how Council has delayed budgeted spending on capital works in an effort to balance its shortfall in operating income. One example is the Waste Division which has deferred $2 million in capital works.
A number of budget variations will be presented to Council in coming months as the full financial impacts of COVID-19 are identified. Council has previously said it expects a $4 million loss in revenue to June 30 this year.
Councillors resolved to wait 12 months before considering spending any further money to plan the detailed design of the proposed Tamworth Regional Aquatic and Leisure Centre. The report tabled tonight revealed $2.6 million was needed to engage a lead designer to progress the project to 50 percent design which is where the planning work needs to be to allow Council to seek funding for the project from the NSW and Australian governments.
“Based on the high expenditure required to complete the 50 per cent design of the facility, no short-term financial return on this investment and the economic strain on Council and the wider community in general as a result of COVID-19, it is recommended that the allocation of additional funds to this project be postponed,” the report said.