In a financial year containing drought, flash floods, fires and a global pandemic, prudent financial management from Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) has ensured essential services continue to be delivered throughout the Region, while Council was also able to provide financial relief to residents.
In adopting the 2019/20 Annual Report, TRC Mayor Paul Antonio praised the work of staff as Council dealt with unprecedented circumstances this year.
“We’re a resilient Region that has been through a number of natural disasters over the years but what we experienced this financial year is something different altogether,” he said.
“The challenges we faced are something I’ve never experienced in my four decades in local government and the way Council and the community responded has been nothing short of exceptional.
“Adopting the Annual Report today gives us an opportunity to reflect on this period of time to remember all of the achievements we accomplished over the past 12 months and to provide the community with an update of our financial position.
“In the 2019/20 financial year, Council injected $514 million into the economy, including operational expenditure of $340 million and a capital program of $174 million.
“Investment is strong in our Region and Council is committed to engaging with our community to realise a shared and sustainable future.
“Council remains open for business, and importantly, continues to provide essential services for our community.
“I’m positive that our residents have the resolve and the energy to continue work that builds on our rich traditions, while positioning us and future generations to enjoy a quality lifestyle while taking advantage of new opportunities.”
During the adoption of the Annual Report, Finance and Business Strategy Committee Chair Councillor Geoff McDonald spoke of how years of responsible management enabled Council to deal with matters such as the current pandemic.
“Through strong fiscal management Council has been able to deliver a lower than expected deficit of $98,000 for the 2019/20 financial year,” he said.
“This is quite a remarkable achievement when you take into account the challenges we’ve faced over the past 12 months and the raft of financial relief measures Council provided to the community through stage one of our Pandemic Response Investment program.
“Council has met this challenge in a financially responsible way, while providing relief that is complementary to State and Federal Government assistance.
“To help residents through COVID-19, Council allocated $8.7 million in the form of a $125 pandemic response rate concession that was applied to 69,743 residential and rural rate assessments. This was in addition to a number of other measures designed to help the community through trying circumstances.
“Council also increased its level of support to local suppliers by amending its procurement policy to prescribe the engagement of local suppliers where possible, reduction in payment terms from 30 days end of month date of invoice to 14 days date of invoice and the refund of some licence fees.
“The reduction in payment terms resulted in an injection of approximately $4 million to the local economy in April.
“I’m proud to report that Council’s commitment to spending locally was at a record level this financial year with $180 million spent locally, equating to 57% of expenditure.
“The Budget was then delivered earlier than usual to give confidence to the community and provide a positive financial outlook for the future.
“While we have had to overcome a number of obstacles, the Queensland Treasury Corporation continues to endorse our sound financial position and this year Council achieved a 95% average for our completion of activities planned against the Operational Plan.
“This reflects our current financial strength, and importantly, our effectiveness and commitment to long-term financial planning.
“During the 2019/20 financial year, a strong emphasis was placed on the renewal of Council assets, with $174 million to renew, upgrade and build new assets for the community.
“I am truly proud of our efforts this year and the way we continue to adapt and respond to changing community needs and expectations.”