Good start to the year for Warrnambool City Council budget figures | The standard

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Warrnambool’s council started the year with a better $ 650,000, putting it in “strong financial position” as the city tries to get back on its feet after pandemic shutdowns. The better-than-expected first quarter was described as “a good result” by advisers, but it did not come without job losses and diving income from board-run facilities forced to close during restrictions. But while the lockdowns hit the board hard, it also saved money at some of the board’s loss-making facilities such as the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum. The tourism facility’s net profit was $ 138,000 better than expected for the first three months of the fiscal year, with savings from COVID-19 restriction cuts to its casual workforce it would have to cover when the site was open. And, since the restrictions did not take place during peak tourist season, the drop in income was smaller than it could have been. Funding for the Grants Commission was also higher than expected – up $ 68,000 – with tourism factors and population growth driving the increase. Staff costs were also below budget, with several vacant posts remaining vacant, which helped offset some of the shortfalls. “There have also been occasional downtime and reduced working hours at facilities that have been affected by the COVID-19 restrictions,” the council said. Cr Ben Blain said the $ 650,000 finances favorable to the current budget forecast were a good result for the first quarter. “I think this will continue to grow as services return and people begin to return to their normal lives and access the normal services and infrastructure provided by the council,” said Cr Blain. He said that even with delays, major projects underway across the city were on budget. Cr Debbie Arnott said it appeared the board was in “good financial shape”. “There is no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted the revenue from parking, AquaZone and the Lighthouse Theater,” she said. “While not ideal, the board had to lay off some casual workers or cut them to a minimum of hours, and not replace some staffing positions and leave some positions vacant until we got a little better. replaced financially, ”she said. Parking fees were down $ 72,000 from budget and parking fines were also down $ 66,000. Cr Arnott also said there was a new automated system in the accounting department that would lead to greater efficiency when up and running. The news of the good start to the fiscal year comes after city councilors sounded the alarm earlier in the year on the city’s finances, saying it was a “mess”. The advisers then warned that they were in such dire financial straits that without a rate hike it could worsen the board’s results for years to come.