The council’s financial position is under close scrutinty as the pandemic continues.
The council’s financial position is under close scrutinty as the pandemic continues.

’Great concern’ council’s coffers could run dry

THE economic sting of the pandemic continues to be felt, with revelations this week Gympie Regional Council is exploring its options in case its financial well runs dry.

Acting CEO Pauline Gordon revealed at Wednesday’s meeting there was “great concern” over the possibility of a shortfall as councillors debated last month’s financial report.

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She said it was a situation being monitored weekly by council staff in an effort to ensure “people aren’t overspending”.

Acting CEO Pauline Gordon says staff are going through the budget with a fine tooth comb.
Acting CEO Pauline Gordon says staff are going through the budget with a fine tooth comb.

The council has waived more than $130,000 in fees like environment health licence charges alone since the pandemic gripped the nation.

After the meeting, Ms Gordon said the decision to offer relief to affected residents was not without its own costs.

“We have lost revenue as a result of not charging fees and charges,” she said.

“We’ve got a facility here (the Civic Centre) that’s closed down.”

Now it was looking for its own relief.

“We’re going through the budget with a fine-tooth comb,” Ms Gordon said.

Mayor Glen Hartwig said the situation was “not pretty” but “we’re utterly focused on doing what’s right for the region, spending money wisely and at the same time trying to deliver services that we should deliver”.

Mayor Glen Hartwig said financial stability is a key focus for the new council.
Mayor Glen Hartwig said financial stability is a key focus for the new council.

“Our finance staff have done a great job in trimming everything they possibly can,” Cr Hartwig said.

“We are doing everything within our power to avoid that.

“It will be a week by week, month by month project, but we’ve got good staff doing a great job and I think we’ll be right.

“The key focus of the organisation at present, particularly in finance, is: do we need it? Should we be spending that money? Is there any parts of budgets that can be given up to make things better?”

More relief for the region is on the way, too.

Council communications manager Sharna Rowley said other fees and charges were under consideration for waiving but they needed to be taken to the council for endorsement.