Despite difficult economic conditions in the six months to December 2013, shareholders in York and Districts Community Financial Services Ltd received a dividend of three cents a share on March 28.

YDCFS Ltd owns the franchise to operate the York and Districts Community Bank branch of Bendigo Bank. The company has about 450 shareholders made up of mostly local residents who contributed capital to open the branch on July 28, 2002.

Company chairman, Lindsay McNeill, said since the branch opened the company had paid dividends and returns of capital amounting to almost 50 cents a share. In addition it had returned more than $300,000 to local volunteer, not for profit community groups by way of grants and sponsorship.

In the six months to December 31, 2013 the company's net profit after tax was down considerably to just under $8,500. The after tax profit for the same period in 2013, was just under $44,500, he said.

There were several reasons for the fall in income including an Australia wide trend for people to pay off debt and reduce borrowing. A number of loans taken out soon after the branch opened were also being paid out, increasing the effort needed to maintain and grow income, Mr McNeill said.

The board would meet early this month to look at ways to keep costs down and boost income. One subject for discussion was ways to get more shareholders to do their banking business with the branch. The issue was raised at the state conference of the Community Bank network in Fremantle in mid March. A representative of Bendigo Bank pointed out that Australia wide, well below half of the shareholders in local community bank companies did any business with the bank in which they held shares. YDCFS Ltd was no exception, he said.

"If every shareholder transferred even part of their business to the Community Bank it would have an immediate impact on the amount of money the company had to return to the community and to shareholders by way of dividends," Mr McNeill said.

Financial reports can be viewed at www.bendigobank.com.au/york

ABOVE: York and Districts Community Bank customer service officers, Selina Carmichael (left) and Mariann Morley with a display commemorating a partnership between YDCFS Ltd and the York Shire that provided a total of $12,000 towards the medals presented at the 2014 Country Swimming Pennants hosted last month by the York Swimming Club.