REPORT: The Central Highlands Regional Council operational costs were $112 million by the end of March.
REPORT: The Central Highlands Regional Council operational costs were $112 million by the end of March.

Council activities ‘compromised’ by coronavirus

A QUARTER of Central Highlands Regional Council’s key performance activities will be hindered by the coronavirus pandemic by July.

This week, the council released its performance report for the third quarter of this financial year.

Council CEO Scott Mason said many projects would soon be in jeopardy.

“While the full effect of the pandemic response won’t be known until the end of the fourth quarter and beyond, at this stage $4 million of the capital program and 25 per cent of key performance activities will be compromised,” he said.

“The primary reasons are supply constraints for materials and services, specifically the unavailability of contractors due to the isolation, and quarantine and restrictive practice

measures.”

The council’s operating expenditure was just more than $112 million as of March 31, which is up by about $3 million compared with the same time last year.

In other words, 75 per cent of the budget is reported to have been spent after the nine months – 75 per cent of the year – since last July.

Regarding programs not completed this quarter, such as a student exchange with Ichinoseki in Japan, Mr Mason said: “Some we accept and cannot do anything about.”

But, he added, “22 community groups benefited from $143,000 of grant funding, the youth team managed to hold 26 successful events … we welcomed seven new trainees this quarter and saw the completion of several large airport and aerodrome projects”.

The Central Highlands Regional Council’s Local Disaster Management Group, which recently moved to the former agricultural college, was activated for 82 of the 90 days in the third quarter.

Mr Mason said that on the bright side, coronavirus restrictions forced the council to adopt technology and flexible work arrangements.

“The pandemic has proved to be a helpful burning bridge to propel us into different and efficient work practices that leverage all the technology in just days,” he said.

‘It’s given us a reason and time to be disciplined in scenario planning and being in a position to respond to anything in the future is a positive.”


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