COVID-19 costs City of Newcastle $18m

13 May 2020

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on City of Newcastle’s finances is forecast to be $18 million by the end of June. 
 
The March Quarterly Budget Review Statement to be considered by the elected Council later this month forecasts that City of Newcastle’s income will fall by $17.849 million at 30 June, when compared to the most recent budget update three months ago.
 
The impact of COVID-19 on the City’s bottom line is furthered through the Council-approved $5.5 million community support program that commenced in April and runs until the end of June.
 
 A second round of support measures in response to COVID-19 will be announced next month as part of the 2020/21 budget. 
 
The overall impact on this year’s (2019/2020) budget is now forecast to be an $8.33 million deficit. This compares to a forecast $4.138 million surplus immediately prior to the state and nation-wide lockdown measures started in March to contain the spread of COVID-19. 
 
City of Newcastle will fund the $8.33 million budget deficit via its existing reserves. 
 
The $18 million reduction in the City’s forecast income for this year is spread across multiple areas of City of Newcastle’s services and includes:

  • Reduced waste volumes to the Summerhill Waste Management Centre 
  • Loss of ticket sales from the closure of Civic Theatre 
  • Loss of bookings from the almost-complete closure of the Stockton Beach Holiday Park
  • Reduced Newcastle Airport dividend
  • Reduced income from investments
  • Reduced parking meter revenue 
  • Reduced traffic infringements.

City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said despite the $18 million COVID-19 hit, the organisation’s long-term financial sustainability remained sound. 
 
“Just like the majority of businesses and organisations in our city and region, our income has been significantly affected by COVID-19,” Mr Bath said. 
 
“However, because of the prudent management of the City’s finances in recent years, we have the ability to get through this economic downturn, all be it with a budget deficit this year.
 
“Our focus over the remainder of this year and next year will be to carefully manage our finances in order to respond to COVID-19, as well as fund projects aimed at supporting the local economy.
 
“We know that in times of significant economic downturn, the most effective way of supporting the local recovery is to fund community infrastructure. It’s for this reason that City of Newcastle will not take its foot off the pedal of our capital works program, which this year will be a historic $100 million.
 
“In March, Councillors unanimously adopted a $5.5 million Community and Economic Resilience Package.
 
“Among a broad range of support for our community, we have already initiated a $800,000 grants program to empower the community sector to support the most vulnerable, as well as offered interest-free rate deferrals for 15 months, and a 50 per cent discount to those small businesses renting a City-owned building.”
 
For the latest updates on the City of Newcastle’s response to the COVID-19 and changes to services, visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/covid-19