Central Coast Council expects to be in deficit by the end of the financial year by $41.6M, with lost revenues and ongoing costs and impacts due to non-COVID events growing the deficit from an earlier estimate of $24M.
Land acquisition for both the Wadalba Sporting Fields and Gosford Cultural Precinct, as well as work on the Mardi to Warnervale water pipeline ahead of schedule, meant that Council has spent an additional $19.2M in capital works that wasn’t in this year’s budget.
However, there are also 36 projects that have been delayed due to the impact of COVID-19.
By the end of the financial year, the capital works program is expected to decrease by $21.2M, reducing the full year program from $257.4M to $236.2M.
The capital works budget includes $8.3M raised in the Wyong area by the special rate variation.
The 36 projects have not been listed and Council has not answered requests for interviews about the third quarter financial statements which were adopted at a recent meeting.
During debate, Cr Greg Best asked about the increase in staff costs and was told by the CEO, Gary Murphy, that the executive team was meeting with an external consultant the following Thursday to discuss staffing.
Cr Best said he was concerned that the growing deficit could be a COVID cover-up.
Cr Kyle MacGregor said council was “extremely reliant on grants”.
He said there was a clear misunderstanding of amalgamation costs and restructuring prior to the amalgamation of the two former councils, and it was “madness” to think that the new council could operate with a surplus in its early years.
Meeting, May 25
Central Coast Council
Reporter: Merilyn Vale