Council records strong year despite COVID impact

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Council records strong year despite COVID impact

The Devonport City Council today released its 2020/21 Annual Report, which highlighted how the last 12 months had been a story of two realities.

Devonport Mayor Annette Rockliff said at the onset of COVID Council had braced for a challenging year with rates and charges frozen, income projections down $3 million on the previous year, operational spending aggressively reduced and a forecasted $2.2 million operating deficit.

“In contrast the year has brought record development applications and building permits, a buoyant economy, booming property market and construction demand hitting unprecedented highs, underpinned locally by $55 million of activity within the LIVING CITY Waterfront Precinct,” Cr Rockliff said.

“However, the year has been far from ‘normal’ with some sectors continuing to see major disruption, annual events cancelled or re-imagined, theatre shows not resuming until late in the year, along with the isolation from mainland Australia, particularly evident for those with loved ones from interstate.

“As we consider the impacts on Council, there are many new learnings, initiatives and adaptions to the way things are done that have been beneficial in creating an organisation that is now more innovative, agile and resilient.

“Prior to the pandemic, Council was fortunate to be focused on two major initiatives, one being an aggressive digital transformation strategy and the other, LIVING CITY, a generational urban renewal strategy.

“LIVING CITY has placed Devonport in the enviable position of having an established, clear, long-term vision and plan to drive the growth, development and business opportunities that are emerging.”

Devonport City Council General Manager Matthew Atkins said with income levels holding up and by maintaining controls on expenditure, Council ended the year with a $4.2 million turnaround on budget expectations, delivering an operating surplus of $2 million.

“This is an exceptional result, compared to the initial forecast and consolidates Council’s long-term financial position,” Mr Atkins said.

“The net worth of Council as at 30 June 2021 was $605 million up from $565 million in 2020. This is predominantly made up of Council’s investment in property and community infrastructure worth $535 million and investment in TasWater of $83 million. Total debt reduced from $50.02 million to $47.9 million in line with anticipated principal and interest repayments detailed in Council’s Long Term Financial Management Plan.

“A new debt structure this year has secured payments over various terms for up to 20 years and reduced annual interest costs to $900,000 per annum, or $200,000 less than the $1.1m Council receives annually in commercial rent.”

Mr Atkins said digital transformation of Council services and operations has allowed seamless continuation of service delivery regardless of employee location.

“This has opened new ways of engaging and operating and provided the community far greater opportunity to transact with Council on a 24/7 basis,” Mr Atkins said.

“Council has become recognised as a digital leader within the sector winning two major awards during the year for its digital transformation achievements.

“As we start the next decade, it is evident the transformation of Devonport is well advanced. This is being supported by a Council fast becoming known as a leading local government authority, thanks to the ongoing commitment and tireless effort of councillors, management and staff.”

Copies of Council’s 2020/2021 Annual Report are now available at Council’s Customer Service Centre, Level 2, paranaple centre and on Council’s website at www.devonport.tas.gov.au/council/governance/strategies-reports-publications/annual-report/

Submissions on the Annual Report are invited and should be delivered to the General Manager by Tuesday, 2 November 2021 to permit them to be listed for discussion at the Annual General Meeting on Monday 8 November. The AGM is being held in the convention centre, Level 3, paranaple centre, 137 Rooke Street, Devonport, at 5.30 pm.

Registration is requested and can be made by contacting Council at council@devonport.tas.gov.au or on 6424 0511 by 12 noon on Monday, 8 November 2021.

ENDS

Media contact: Jacqui Surtees | Executive Coordinator | Devonport City Council | 03 6424 0560 |  jsurtees@devonport.tas.gov.au