ORANGE City Council’s financial strength will give it an enormous ability to customise what it does with a renewed focus on community amenity in the next three or four years, according to mayor John Davis.
Cr Davis praised the council’s “exceptional result” revealed in the annual report and said the consistent financial position of the past 12 years had continued.
But with the city’s demographics changing, he signalled a shift to more facilities for the young.
“We’ll have to certainly look at the population especially the age groups and facilities for young people from babies to teens, with sporting fields, complexes and facilities,” he said.
He praised the council’s ability to repay its debts indicated in the “phenomenally good” 5.74 per cent debt service ratio.
Past work by councillors and the general manager had allowed the council to receive outside funding for projects that the council otherwise would not have been able to do for 20 years without being burdened by debt.
“When you compare it to other councils, they’re not in the same position as we are and it hasn’t come about because of luck it’s because of good management practices and good decisions,” he said.
Now the number one project of the previous year, the regional museum, is at the building stage, Cr Davis says the council’s priorities for the new year will be improving sporting facilities and overhauling the CBD, including its car parking, trees and traffic.
Although the council received less outside funding grants in the past 12 months, Cr Davis said it was because of past successes at attracting competitive state and federal money.
“We’ve had better than our fair share of money, no one can expect another 12 years of what we’ve seen,” he said.
“It’s been absolutely phenomenal.”
The council’s operating surplus before capital is about $1.5 million less than the previous year and the general fund surplus is also down from $12.21 million last year to $8.03 million this year.
But Cr Davis said the reduction was not a concern, and the fluctuating figures were due to the reduction in grant funding.