A GRIM outlook was presented in Mitchell Shire Council’s quarterly report for the first three months of the 2021-22 financial year, with a forecast underlying deficit of $3.43 million.

The reasons for the change to the forecasted budget surplus of $621,000 included increased depreciation of assets, $1.69 million; unfinished operational projects carried forward from the 2020-21 financial year, $1.13 million; increased expenditure linked to illegally dumped rubbish, $140,000; cleaning costs, $140,000; street lighting maintenance, $96,000; waste disposal, diversion, and landfill costs, $551,000; and COVID-related costs, $361,000.

The increased costs were partially offset by new successful grant applications of $662,000, with corresponding additional expenditure of $524,000; and increased natural disaster funding linked to the June 9 and 10 storm of $1.21 million, with corresponding expenditure of $980,000.

The forecasted capital works expenditure for 2021-22 is now $46.07 million – more than $2 million higher than the adopted budget.

Cr Rhonda Sanderson said the report was ‘not particularly good news’ but did not come as a surprise to council.

“It’s got some very interesting figures in it this time around … but I’m assured that by the end of the budget period we’ll have a bit of a plan to get us back on track,” she said.

“Obviously COVID has had an effect and there have been quite a few other things that have had an effect.”