No debt here, says Mayor

Published on 17 April 2014

Loddon Shire Mayor Cr Gavan Holt has strongly refuted rumours that the municipality is deeply in debt, following a report to that effect in local media.

Cr Holt said a recent radio news item had claimed the Shire was $2.5 million in the red, sparking concern in the community about Council’s financial well-being.

The report took the idea from Council’s approval in March of its latest long-term financial plan, which forecast potential annual deficits over the next decade of an average $296,000.

The document covered the period of July 2014 to June 2024.

“The Local Government Act states that one of Council’s roles is to maintain the viability of the Council by ensuring resources are managed in a responsible and accountable manner,” Cr Holt said.

“There is no legislative requirement to draft and adopt such a plan, but Council believes it is best
practice to do so in the interests of providing sound structure.”

Using the 2013/14 budget as a starting point, Council staff assessed the cost and timing of every one of the Shire’s strategic documents and plans to come up with the best forecast possible, given the variables involved.

The document pointed to a potential accumulated deficit of $2.96 million over the life of the plan.

“A 10-year plan is, by its very nature, a highly fluid document,” Cr Holt said.

“I wish to assure Loddon Shire residents that, contrary to what they might hear, Council is not in debt, but is, in fact, one of the most financially sound municipalities in Victoria.

“One of Council’s greatest attributes is its sound financial management and the community can be secure in the knowledge that the Shire’s finances are in highly capable hands.” 

Meeting in Serpentine last month, Councillors acknowledged the document’s forecasts and resolved to consider ways they could best maintain the health of the Shire’s finances over the life of the plan.