2024-25 budget a 'good start'

Published on 01 July 2024

CEO Jane Stroud

Kiama Council has finalised its Operating Plan, Budget, Long-Term Financial Plan and Fees and Charges for 2024-25.

Council will record an operating deficit of $5.4 million in 2024-25 (excluding capital grants and assets sales).

This is forecast to improve to an operating deficit of $2.7 million in 2025-26 before returning an operating surplus of $700,000 in 2026-27.

Chief Executive Officer Jane Stroud said returning an operating surplus by 2026-27, without relying on asset sales or capital grants, was required by the NSW Government.

“This represents the culmination of what has been an incredibly difficult budget to put together for our organisation,” Ms Stroud said.

“But what we have now is a good start towards delivering a surplus budget in two years, as required by our Performance Improvement Order.”

“To start the work of getting this Council back in form is no mean feat.”

“When you consider our budget deficit in 2019-20 was $8.1 million, we’ve managed to realise an improvement in the order of 35% in our bottom line.”

Mayor Neil Reilly thanked Ms Stroud and Council staff for their efforts to deliver the budget and other financial and planning documents required by 1 July 2024.

“I want to acknowledge the staff who have come together and identified savings and efficiencies,” Cr Reilly said.

“This is a serious budget, reflecting serious consideration, evaluation and extensive consultation.”

“While a tough budget, it’s one I am proud to present.”

The 2024-25 budget is the last to be considered and endorsed by the current Council before the local government elections in September.

Cr Reilly thanked his fellow councillors for their commitment to the financial and strategic reforms developed during their term in office.

“We have laboured hard over the last two and a half years, balancing competing priorities but all the time striving to put our community first.”

“We’ve well and truly begun the hard work of taking control of our future.”

“We now can proudly hand the baton on to the next Council, who will also need to make tough calls and think deeply about what we want Kiama Council to look like in the long term.”

Ms Stroud said the incoming councillors would need to make critical decisions about the role of Council in key areas.

“Kiama Council is no longer in a position where efficiencies and savings are the answer. Where we go next will require political decisions from our incoming Councillors.”

“The most important of these will be deciding our core business as a council, following the review of our essential and non-essential services, which is already underway.”

“The divestment decision of Blue Haven Bonaira was a monumental one for this Council, and the size and complexity of the undertaking cannot be ignored.”

“However, the sale of assets alone is not the answer. We will need to focus on what we have to deliver for our community versus what is nice to do.”

Ms Stroud said the newly endorsed Strategic Finance and Governance Improvement Plan (Improvement Plan) was critical to the work to be done over the next three years.

The Improvement Plan sets out what financial sustainability looks like for Kiama Council, and eight ‘levers’ for achieving it by 2026-27:

Sustainable cash reserves & responsible borrowing

  1. Optimised revenue opportunities
  2. Well planned assets
  3. Reviewed and efficient service landscape
  4. Investment in transformation
  5. Robust financial management
  6. Prioritising advocacy and partnerships
  7. Ensure good governance

The Improvement Plan requires monthly financial reporting, starting at Council’s next meeting on 16 July.

The Plan itself will be reviewed and updated every six months.

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