The first 100 days
No one can be in any doubt that the financial position of the Council is in dire straits. The recent spate of land sales and zombie developments are evidence of this: the lack of a practical business case for the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre is the reason. Unless we act, and act quickly, to repair the finances we will all have to pay – whether through increased rates or reduced services.
The Annual Financial Statements can be found on the Council's website. And after a year's silence, we were provided with a quarterly financial update for the first quarter of FY21-22 in support of an item on the agenda of the last Council meeting of this administration. One of the first things that The MAYNE Team will do is to take a forensic look at the inputs to these accounts.
The MAYNE Team consists of people who want to do things and who recognise the need to do them quickly – and who have the experience to do them. We can spend a lot of time collecting information and never doing anything. We need to act, and we need to act fast.
Here is our plan for budget remediation. These are the things that we will carry out within 100 days of taking office.
FY22/23 budget principles
At the end of our first 100 days, we will have developed the principles by which we will create the FY22/23 Council budget.
The FY22/23 budget will be based on zero-based budgeting. It will not be based on simply adding a percentage to last year’s budget. All budgets will go back to zero and be built from the ground up.
To do this we will need to manage priorities. We will need to find a way to decide what things are more important than what other things. Difficult decisions will be needed.
What are the things that are most important to the community?
We can only answer that through engagement with that community - you, your family and friends, the businesses you buy stuff from.
We will immediately implement a rapid and focussed communication program designed to help prioritise what’s needed in that FY22/23 budget.
We need to balance that community input with day-to-day service delivery operations. There never will be enough money to do everything. We know that from our daily lives, unless we are very lucky.
On Day 1 we will stand up a project to review all the risks to Council’s continuing operations. This review will be complete in 30 days and will identify and describe an set of high-level risks, the impact and probability of those risks, the mitigation of the risk together with a relative cost for the mitigation and the residual risk.
This will help not only prioritise the community needs but it will also help cost them for input to the FY22/23 budget.
The current Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee to act as the Steering Committee for this review.
We will withdraw all current delegations to the General Manager except for those that are necessary for ongoing business-as-usual activities.
This will be done in concert with the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee so that business operations are appropriately protected.
Finally, we will begin a review of all existing capital projects, starting with the largest and working downward. Projects will be rated as red, orange or green. Green projects are those meeting their plan. Red projects are those not meeting community need and expectations or that are not delivering the benefits in their plan and that do not have a plan to recover. Orange projects are those that are not delivering but that have an agreed recovery plan. Red projects will be cancelled or have their terms of reference adjusted. Orange projects will be the subject of further review. Green projects will continue.
There is a lot of work to be done and we will need help to do it. Some of that help will come from the existing administration but that will be supplemented by external assistance. The aphorism “physician heal thyself”, in our corporate experience, rarely results in significant or sustainable change.
There are no silver bullets available. It will be hard. There will be people - including the administration - who will tell us that we cannot do what we have laid out here.
In 1908 someone published “guide for the young academic politician”. It is a satirical piece but, like much satire, it is based in truth. The author offers an analysis of public administration from which it “follows that nothing should ever be done for the first time”.
But the status quo is not a safe place to be.
When elected, the The MAYNE Team will, within 100 days:
develop the principles by which we will create the FY22/23 budget
consult with the community to prioritise community requirements
review all the risks to Council’s continuing and future operations
immediately withdraw all current delegations to the General Manager except for those that are necessary for ongoing business-as-usual activities
commence a review of all existing capital projects
22 September 2021