Fraser Coast council debt reduced by $77million
A DRAMATIC reduction in council debt will free up an extra $4million a year to be spent on local services, Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour will announce today.
The Chronicle can reveal crippling council debt, which peaked at $175million five years ago, has been brought back to $98.7million.
This is the first time council debt has been under $100million in a decade.
The figure is expected to fall to $93million by the end of the financial year.
"The Council has been focussed on sound economic management and living within our means so we can deliver the services and facilities the people of the Fraser Coast want and deserve while also keeping rate rises to a minimum," Cr Seymour said.
"We've been working hard to pay back our debt and we now haven't had to borrow for the past five years with no plans to borrow for at least another two years.
"As anyone with a home loan knows, the more you pay back and the quicker you do it, the less interest you have to pay.
The council's annual interest bill of $10million has been reduced to $6million, keeping $4million a year in council accounts which Cr Seymour said would be spent on maintaining and building roads, water infrastructure, parks, libraries and other services.
Cr Seymour said that by keeping borrowings at a minimum, future generations wouldn't be burdened by "unsustainable rate rises".
Asked whether ratepayers could expect no further rises this year, given the council had managed to reduce debt under the current rates structure, Cr Seymour said the 2019-2020 budget had not been completed and he was unable to provide details.
"I know my colleagues and I want to keep any rate rise as low as possible... when we are setting the budget it is the increase of costs of matters like electricity, materials and staff that have a greater increase year in year out than debt repayments - but lower loan balances are obviously helpful in being in a sound financial position," he said.
The official announcement is expected to be made at the Tavistock St chambers today.