The facts on the City’s financial position
As Mayor, I want to reassure all residents and ratepayers the City of South Perth is financially sustainable and our position continues to strengthen as plans agreed to by all Councillors and myself are delivered over the next two to four years.
A public advertisement in today’s Southern Gazette newspaper, which is part of an individual’s Local Government election campaign authorised by two Mill Point ratepayers, misrepresents the City’s financial position based on a Financial Health Indicator (FHI) score.
The FHI is calculated by averaging seven financial ratios reported by local government annually.
During development of the 2018/19 budget, the Mayor and all Councillors recognised the need to increase the City’s FHI over a two to four year period and the budget was approved by Council within this context.
The City has focused on achieving a balance between effective spending to develop community assets whilst keeping household costs down. Key projects – which include the Manning Community Hub, the Ernest Johnson Reserve redevelopment and Connect South – offer significant public benefits, though they do not improve the City’s FHI.
The City is not on a downward trend financially. The table below provides current information and indicates the City is on track to achieve a rating of 62 for the 2018/19 financial year.
The City volunteered to be the first Council audited by the WA Auditor General. Over the past two years, the City has been one of only three Councils afforded the highest level of financial scrutiny, having its annual financial statements audited by the WA Auditor General.
During recent years, Council decided to develop new community infrastructure to improve the lives of residents and visitors, despite the short term reflection on the FHI.
The $15.5 million Manning Community Hub has been in operation since 2017 and houses a new library and hall, Manning Child Health Clinic, Moorditj Keila Aboriginal Group, a sporting clubroom for Manning Rippers Football Club and an early years’ centre, Manning Toy Library and a Manning Playgroup association.
The Ernest Johnson Reserve redevelopment includes the new John McGrath Hall and Pavilion, as well as new playgrounds, oval configurations, turf and lighting. The $11 million project also provided a new home for community groups including Scouts, Girl Guides and playgroups as well as sporting clubs and other groups.
Currently underway, Connect South involves a major redevelopment of the South Perth Foreshore near the Mends Street Jetty, welcoming visitors and connecting the area with greater South Perth. As part of the $7.5 million project – partly funded by a $2.5 million federal government grant – a new piazza is being built with improved lighting, seating and a range of additional features including giant numbat and frilled neck lizard canopies.
These projects offer significant public benefits and were considered essential investments for the future.
The Council has set a road map and clear direction for restoring the City to its previous high ranking on the Financial Health Indicator and the results for the recent financial year demonstrate that we are achieving our goal.
It is important the City lives within its means, and that we develop and manage our community assets over the long term, rather than having a short term, narrow focus.
If the choice is doing nothing and achieving one strong FHI score, or developing our City for the benefit of residents and visitors, I’d choose the community every time.
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