Population growth boosts council coffers as it absorbs loans

A GROWING population has helped net Ipswich City Council more than $180million in rate revenue as it moves to absorb loans owed by its own companies.

Despite its operating surplus falling, the council remains in a healthy financial position, according to its 2017-2018 Annual Report.

Growth in expenses outpaced increases in revenue, leaving the council with an operating surplus of $93.2million; about $18.4 million lower than in 2016-2017.

By far the biggest cash cow for the council was rates, levies and charges; which totalled $186.2million.

Grants and contributions was the next largest revenue source, at $116.4million.

Materials and services was the biggest cost to the council, at $102.4 million; followed by $86million in employee expenses

The council's decision to wind up Ipswich City Properties has affected its balance sheet.

Finance costs increased by $22.1million due to the impairment of the loan to Ipswich City Properties.

The loan was impaired due to the council's decision to wind up ICP, which affects the entity's ability to continue to earn development profits from its assets to repay the loan.

A $450,000 loan to Ipswich Motorsport Park, another council-owned company, was written down to nil.

The $2.3million loan and interest accrued by Ipswich City Developments was repaid to the council in full.

A strong financial position comes from a disciplined fiscal plan, the council said.

"The council has maintained a financial management strategy over the past five financial years of minimal full-time equivalents (employment) growth, minimal increases in operational expenses and an appropriate borrowing program," the report notes.

"Services have continued to be delivered and the capital program expanded.

"This strategy has council well placed to manage a growing city."

In the 2017-2018 financial year, Ipswich City Council wiped $19.2million from its $233.6million in borrowings.

Ipswich's community equity, its net worth, at June 30 was $2.5billion, which is $48.7million more than the previous year.

At June 30, the council held $2.8billion in assets, $35.4million more than the previous year.

Property, plant and equipment increased by $80.9million to $2.3billion.

The council's cash balance decreased to $70.6million.