Council to slash $40.5M from its 2020-21 capital works program


Central Coast Council is planning to slash $40.5M from its 2020-21 capital works program as it continues towards financial recovery with new financial leadership.

Acting CEO, Jamie Loader, said Council was also progressing inquiries for a commercial loan facility and overdraft, among other actions in the 100-Day Recovery Action Plan adopted by Council on October 19.

“A reduction of $40.5M in the capital works program for 2020-21 will be proposed for consideration as part of the quarterly budget adjustments in November this year,” Loader said.

“The assessment of these reductions balanced proceeding with external grant or co-funded projects, meeting legislative requirements or public safety and risk needs, and maintaining gainful employment of the existing permanent workforce.

“Additionally, changes have been made to Council’s internal financial controls.

“Daily monitoring of cash flow is in place and daily expenditure review is undertaken, ensuring that suppliers are kept informed of Council’s payment controls,” Loader said.

“We are getting on with our promise to the community to sort out these serious financial matters,” said the Mayor, Lisa Matthews.

“We welcome Council’s new Chief Financial Officer, Natalia Cowley, and we have appointed the forensic financial auditors and formed a Finance Committee to oversee actions,” the Mayor said.

“The new CFO was up for the challenge, wants to get involved, and wants to be part of the solutions,” Mayor Matthews said.

She said the 100-Day Recovery Action Plan was a multi-pronged approach, and key to success would be keeping all stakeholders informed; most importantly ratepayers and residents.

Among key priorities listed in the Plan are maintaining essential services, looking at financial sustainability into the future, a reduction in projects, a freeze on employment and most overtime, restricted financial delegations for employees, a business restructure and a review of all services, workforce numbers and revenue options.

“Our community expect us to address these financial issues as urgently as we can and we intend to do that,” Cr Matthews said.

“All decisions taken during this period of rapid change will ensure that essential services are maintained and the impact on our community is minimised.

“Long term, this is about the financial stability of Council operations to deliver effective and efficient services to meet community needs and aspirations.”

Acting CEO, Jamie Loader, said that the immediate focus was still on a reduction in the rate of expenditure to address Council’s cashflow issues.

“We have found: substantial savings in our capital works program for 2019/20; stopped all recruitment for new roles; released a portion of the contingency workforce; restricted financial delegations and staff overtime; and, finalised scope of the forensic audit of Council’s finances,” Loader said.

“At the same time, a complete review and fully costed business restructure will get underway.”

The 100-Day Action Recovery Plan can be viewed on Council’s website.

Sue Murray