Having recently moved to the Shire I was surprised by T Walker’s claim in the Courier Sun (25 January 2017) that 80% of our rate payments are spent on wages. I rushed to the BSC’s website and looked at their most recent Annual Report.
According to the financial statements, employee benefits and on-costs total $10.3m while rates and annual charges bring in $12.7m – which I presume is where Mr Walker gets his 80% figure. I note the latter figure includes both annual charges and rates; if you were dealing with just rates they make up 22% of operating income or $7.5m. In which case, Council employees’ costs are actually more than what Council collects in just rates.
But employee benefits and on-costs is more than just wages: this operating expense can include liabilities such as superannuation, workers compensation, FBT, leave payments and eligible termination payments. The costs of these liabilities into the future is what scares me.
Regardless, the $10.3m employee costs makes up just over 30% of total expenses of almost $30m. My question is, are other sources of revenue (user fees and charges, grants, interest and investment revenue, etc) used to pay employees? Is Council’s overall income one big melting pot (ie. are line items fungible) or are various income streams tied to certain expenses that preclude paying wages, etc? This, to me, would be an important starting point in informing ratepayers exactly what employees cost us.
I am told that over 50% of our Shire is non-rateable and that the majority of non-rateable land is owned by state and federal governments. Do these tiers of government contribute to our fiscal imbalance?
It is stated that the special rate variation is intended for transport infrastructure works – and I have no reason to doubt that. But it seems to me that unless Council starts decreasing staff numbers, we are heading towards a tipping point in terms of funding future liabilities if we stick with current staffing levels.
Like any ratepayer I am interested in keeping rates to a viable minimum. And probably like most ratepayers I am not an accountant so I am happy to be corrected on any of the above. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the info sessions where I could have had my questions answered, so apologies if this was all discussed.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.