5 April 2024

Eurobodalla Shire Council to host information sessions as it faces 'serious and ongoing deficit'

| Claire Sams
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Man and lady standing

Finance director Stephanie Speedy and general manager Warwick Winn will lead three sessions to explain Eurobodalla Shire Council’s financials to residents. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

A series of community sessions is planned for April as a South Coast council faces a “serious and ongoing deficit”.

Eurobodalla Shire Council general manager Warwick Winn said the sessions would examine the council’s financial position.

“Last year in May we publicly outlined our financial situation, and that is, we are facing a serious and ongoing deficit in our general fund,” Mr Winn said.

“Almost 12 months on, we’re ready to explain to the community the strategy we’ve developed and the actions we’ve taken already to step our way out of this.”

The sessions will be held at locations across the shire and be attended by Mr Winn, finance director Stephanie Speedy and Mayor Mathew Hatcher.

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Mr Winn said there had been ongoing work to stabilise council’s budgets and find a path to financial sustainability.

“We are focused on core business and have managed to reduce the operating deficit by carefully reprioritising and staging our annual work plans,” he said.

“We’re also using grant funds to support already programmed works and services, rather than adding extra projects to our to-do list.

“We’ll explain the internal budget reset conducted right across council early this year, the savings we’ve made and the service changes we’ll propose for 2024-25 as a result.”

Sessions will be held at Narooma Library on 9 April (Tuesday), Moruya Library on 11 April (Thursday) and Batemans Bay Library on 23 April (Tuesday).

People are invited to gather for light refreshments from 5:15 pm, before the meetings start at 5:30 pm.

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Mayor Mathew Hatcher said the general manager and council staff had the full support of councillors as they worked to balance the books and improve council’s financial situation.

“Councillors want to leave the organisation in better financial shape than we found it,” he said.

“I encourage residents to come along and hear firsthand from Warwick and Steph how we’re going about that.”

Each session will run for one hour, and bookings are not required.

Mr Winn and Ms Speedy will also host a further round of financial talks with the community in May.

Those sessions will focus on council’s draft 2024-25 budget while it is on public exhibition, and further details will be released shortly.

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I think it is very telling that on a subject such as this, which adversely affects every single person in the Eurobodalla Shire, there are only two comments, which are two days old.

The contempt this council, in its current form—nothing more than a segue from its previous iteration—holds the residents and ratepayers is well documented and quite candidly disgusting. The residents and ratepayers seemingly have no voice in the NSW Office of Local Government, a sad indictment of both current and previous governments.

Here we go, a softening up strategy to prepare us for huge rates increase to pay for Council’s vanity projects like the Batemans Bay aquatic centre that is useless to the rest of the Shire. They will pretend it is a consultation process with the ratepayers and pay a huge amount to some supposedly independent consulting outfit from Sydney to tell them what they want to hear. Then up go the rates for what many of us is just a garbage collection service.

patricia gardiner12:54 pm 07 Apr 24

And why is ESC in such a ‘pickle’ you may ask.
It all stems from secrecy, deceit and irresponsible decisions by previous senior management and councillors, particularly in regard to the $70m ‘duck pond’ (Bay Pavilions) that the community didn’t want.
We are not only stuck with the cost blow out, but also running costs, maintenance and repair bills totaling several millions every year.
While ratepayers contacted the Office of Local Government(OLG) with their concerns re lack of transparency/consultation or a project budget, as well as failure to comply with policy and OLG Guidelines for major projects, the OLG DID NOTHING.
Now we are stuck with the consequences while for those responsible for the debacle, there are no consequences.
They are not held accountable.

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