FALLOUT from the COVID-19 pandemic continued to cause disruption for Mitchell Shire Council in late 2020, with its latest quarterly report showing an adjusted underlying deficit of $1.63 million.

The deficit was $200,000 greater than a prior forecast deficit of $1.43 million.

Council’s forecast capital works expenditure for the year has also been downgraded by $9.76 million to $51.83 million, mainly due to projects that will now be carried forward into the 2021-22 financial year.

Cr Fiona Stevens said the pandemic had presented many financial challenges for council.

“This report [is] basically comparing our performance against our estimates and forecasts and what was adopted in the budget,” she said.

“In a COVID environment the goalposts kept changing, expenses were thrown at us left, right and centre, and we still had to keep business going.

“I congratulate all involved in achieving that, particularly the finance area, because they’ve done pretty well to keep us afloat.”

Cr Stevens said a number of factors influenced the underlying deficit.

“The main changes that impacted that were a reduction in the user fees and the income we get from our leisure and aquatic centres, because COVID closed us down; increased employee costs, because we had to put a lot in place to keep the operational needs going; depreciation; increases to grant income, because we were successful in grants and we have to tip in, which is fine; and decreases to materials and services, mainly as a result of current year-to-date expenditure and expected forecasts, and savings in part due to COVID as well,” she said.

“The total capital works expenditure forecast for the year is $51.83 million, which is $9.73 million lower than the prior forecast.

“This is mainly due to identified carry-forwards into 2021-22 of $9.66 million, offset by approved change requests and some capital projects.

“There’s a pretty hefty weight of capital works that are trying to be managed, and unfortunately some of them are carried over, which does play with the figures a bit.”

People can view the full quarterly financial report as part of last week’s council meeting agenda at bit.ly/3jXlf3X.