MACEDON Ranges Shire Council ended the financial year on a high, carrying a $3.3 million surplus into 2018-19.
The majority of the surplus came from council saving $1.835 million on its operating budget, which includes expenditure categories such as employee costs, insurance premiums and legal costs, these were lower than budget, while income from the use of council services was higher than anticipated.
Council was already $1.1 million in surplus at the end of the calendar year, ahead of the councillor directed savings target of $925,000.
Money was also saved on capital projects with council retaining $375,000 from projects that were delivered at a lower cost than budgeted for or projects that were deferred indefinitely.
Council’s Corporate Service Director John Hausler said savings were made from a number of projects costing less than anticipated and the deferral of a roads project on Willowbank Road in Gisborne.
“Budgets are never 100 per cent accurate. If you’re 100 per cent, you’re doing pretty well,” he said.
“We put a budget in place and see what occurs. In this instance, it resulted in us having a surplus and now we’re in a position to see how we can utilise that in the best interest of the community.
“Our officers’ main recommendation was to reduce debt and put money to projects already on the books that they identified might need some more funding.”
The surplus has allowed council to reduce the loan for the Hanging Rock East Paddock development from $1 million to zero, while money will also be allocated to 16 projects across the shire.
The big winners from the surplus were the Gilbert Gordon Reserve pavilion, which received an additional $450,000 and the Lauriston Road bridge works in Kyneton which got a $280,000 boost.
Other projects to receive additional or new funding include the Romsey and Riddells Creek Kindergarten and Maternal and Child Health Centre upgrades ($228,000) and the Riddells Creek Tennis Court lighting and redevelopment ($80,000).
Council was also able to bring its $510,000 kerbside bin replacement program, which was originally planned for 2019-20, forward to this financial year.
The remaining $693,000 of the surplus has not been allocated at this stage and will become available for future allocation to councillor priorities.