Monday, August 04, 2008

Sydney City Council financial result ‘pea and shell’ accounting

3 August 2008

Liberal Candidate for Lord Mayor of Sydney and Deputy Chair of Council’s Finance Committee, Councillor Shayne Mallard, has criticised the final quarter financial reports for the Council as an example of the classic ‘pea and shell’ confidence trick.

"Where is the much promised ‘accelerated’ capital works spending for the community? Is it under this year’s shell or is it under next year’s?" Shayne said.

"For the fourth year in a row this administration has failed to deliver on its hyped and overblown capital works promises.
"Every year this administration has spectacularly failed to meet its published budget. In the last financial year, the Council was only able to spend $120.4 million of a promised $174.8 million in capital works.
"This is clear evidence that Clover Moore and her team are not able to deliver any sort of acceptable financial management or accountability for this City.
"They are clearly asking too much of the staff. This reinforces my long held view that this orgy of spending is unsustainable and should be spread evenly over a 10 year period," Shayne added.
"The Lord Mayor has attempted to front-load the spending to help her re-election bid, but she has failed miserably with many projects still on the drawing board or not near their promised completion.
Shayne also alerted the community to some sneaky changes to Council’s current budget. Buried in ‘Attachment B’ to the report is a transfer of $37 million of capital works spending to the next financial year starting in July 2009.

"Less than four weeks after the Council adopted Clover Moore’s biggest spending budget ever, the Lord Mayor and her 'Independent' Councillors are quietly sneeking major parts of projects out yet another 12 months," Shayne said.

Major projects delayed include:
Burton Street Tabernacle
Fitzroy Gardens
Foley Lane
Glebe Town Hall
Harris Street upgrade
Paddington Town Hall
Prince Alfred Park
Rushcutters Bay Park
Stanley Street upgrade

"Ratepayers should be thankful that Clover Moore fails each year to spend all their money, despite her promising to deliver in media releases and glossy newsletters (paid for by ratepayers).
"Whilst ratepayers’ money may have been protected more by luck than any management ability – Clover Moore has adopted a new budget that yet again has big spending promises and is underscored by a new, bigger, cash deficit of $295 million over the next four years.
"That’s Mercedes Clover spending the equivalent of a $180,000 top of the range Mercedes every day for four years if she gets her way and is re-elected to run the Council without any checks and balances," Shayne concluded.

Shayne Mallard
0439 426 274
Link: Capital Expenditure Financial Results, City of Sydney Council Q4 2007/2008 report

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