BUDGET BLACK HOLE: Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig, pictured with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry and a Cyclone Marcia clean-up team, will fly to Canberra tomorrow to meet with the Prime Minister about funding for the cyclone recovery.
BUDGET BLACK HOLE: Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig, pictured with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry and a Cyclone Marcia clean-up team, will fly to Canberra tomorrow to meet with the Prime Minister about funding for the cyclone recovery. Trinette Stevens Roktmarci

Marcia delivers $3m budget black hole for Livingstone

LIVINGSTONE Shire Council could end up having to foot a $3 million bill following Cyclone Marcia.

Council's finance manager Darryl Schurmann sat at the head of the council table during yesterday's meeting where he confirmed a $3 million budget black hole loomed.

Mr Schurmann delivered the summary budget and said the expenditures of the cyclone were around the $9 million mark, with an estimated $6 million return from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and insurances, leaving an estimated $3 million shortfall.

Mr Schurmann said the figures indicated the current budget would be substantially exceeded due to the impacts of the cyclone.

"The main thrust of the report is that the cost of the disaster is becoming evident," he said.

"The last report I saw of the expenditures of the cyclone, which covers both things that were assessed by QRA for some assistance and also insurance, was around the $9 million mark," he said. "We're expecting to get about $6 million back, maximum $7 million, from QRA but that won't be in this half year.

"The big impact will be assessing the budget in future years where a number of projects won't be completed and we'll have to prioritise those. We were hoping for a low deficit this year but that won't happen now."

Mr Schurmann told The Morning Bulletin yesterday that the council's debt was $72.9 million at the end of last month but that the possible $3 million shortfall wasn't enough to impact on the debt level.

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig told the councillors at yesterday's meeting that the loss was an expense the council would have to carry.

"We're hoping the shortage, by the time we sort out our insurance, is closer to $2 million but it could be up to $3 million," Cr Ludwig said.

"Under the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, there's an agreement between the State and Federal government that when events exceed a certain threshold and the council's capacity to deal with it, we get relief funding but there is an expectation council will carry some of the load.

"In this situation there's about $9 million in overall damage and NDRRA will cover a percentage, our insurance will cover a percentage but a lot of work we do isn't claimable because of that expectation. We've been arguing for a number of years that a greater percentage should be claimable and it's a discussion we'll continue to have as we move forward.

"This just means it's going to be a tough budget for us but we'll be doing everything we can to claim as much as we can for assistance so it doesn't have a harsh effect on ratepayers.

"The cyclone has meant we've had to review our strategies and defer some works so we'll be rescheduling some things but the main focus is getting ourselves back on track."

Cr Ludwig will fly to Canberra tomorrow to meet with Prime Minister Tony Abbott to discuss the case of Category D funding.

THE NUMBERS

Livingstone Shire Council's debt level has decreased from over $80 million to $72.9 million.

The cost of the clean-up of Cyclone Marcia is about $9 million.

Council is estimating about $6 million to be paid back through insurance and QRA.