Deputy mayor Cr Karen May. Picture: Rainee Shepperson
Deputy mayor Cr Karen May. Picture: Rainee Shepperson

Council's $3.6M coronavirus hit

A PROJECTED $3.6 million revenue shortfall due to COVID-19 has left Mackay Regional Council facing a $445,000 budget deficit.

Initial forecasts indicated a $156,000 operating surplus for this financial year but the extent of the turnaround became evident after a review.

Councillors will today vote on adopting the revised 2019-20 budget, which sets out the gains and losses in detail.

The council has countered the significant loss of revenue by reducing expenses where possible and through some income adjustments.

However, the closure of the MECC due to COVID-19 and a significant reduction in Waste fees income is the main reason for the sizeable deficit.

Some capital projects will also be affected by COVID-19, resulting in delays to completion and the carry-over of some works into the next financial year.

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Capital projects expenditure is forecast to decrease overall by $12.5 million to $119.7 million.

The budget review brings to account known variations to the original budget adopted on June 26, 2019 and adjusted throughout the year.

Costs and revenue will continue to be monitored, especially in relation to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on council business.

"We knew that these adjustments would have to be made due to COVID-19," Mackay deputy mayor Karen May said.

"We are very aware of managing costs and expenses.

"We've had reductions in fees and charges in a number of areas including the cancellation of events at the MECC, a suspension of parking fees and no rental income from businesses at The Dome after we decided to suspend rental fees for the next few months.

"Some of the shortages in capital project finances were partly due to not being able to source supply."

Cr May said she expected the deficit to run into next year's budget as the council would be giving relief to businesses and the community to counter the economic impact of the pandemic.

"We're just hoping the June figures will not be worse than what we have already projected," she said.