LISMORE City Council has drafted plans for an increased roads budget, a multi-million dollar recycling facility and the employment of a housing officer to implement the Lismore Housing Strategy as part of initiatives flagged in the 2012/13 Operational Plan.
The draft 2012/13 Operational Plan is now on public exhibition, giving residents a month to provide comments and feedback on Council's annual budget and strategic projects.
The council said in a statement: "Despite the frugal nature of this year's draft Plan, the $123.2 million budget includes some innovative projects to provide infrastructure and services into the future as well as improving arts and recycling facilities."
"The roads budget has been increased to $18.2 million to ensure continued work on the region's road and bridges network. Funding of $5,427,300 has also been allocated to further expand and improve the wastewater services network, which includes the much-anticipated Southern Trunk Main that will enable greater development and much-needed new housing to the south-east and north of the city. A further $2,648,800 has also been allocated for the water supply network.
"Council has earmarked funding for a new housing officer to enact the Lismore Housing Strategy, which will be finalised later this year following an extensive community consultation period. The strategy is designed to satisfy Lismore's housing needs well into the future, with provision for more affordable housing for low and middle income earners, extra housing to cater for an ageing population and increased housing to assist those who need support to access suitable accommodation such as those people with a mental illness.
Council's Manager Finance Rino Santin said one of the truly exciting elements of the draft 2012/13 Operational Plan was the $3.8 million new materials recovery facility to be established at the Resource and Recovery Centre in East Lismore.
"This state-of-the-art facility will allow the recycling of paper, cardboard, plastics and other recyclables to occur on-site, creating employment opportunities and reducing the council's need to ship waste elsewhere for processing. Lismore City Council is looking for regional cooperation with other councils to make Lismore City both a leader in innovation and a central hub for recycling across the Northern Rivers region," he said.
Mr Santin also noted that Stage 1 of the Lismore City Hall upgrade will be completed during the 2012/13 financial year, with approximately $4.8 million invested to extend the foyer area as well as upgrades to mechanical, electrical and hydraulic services and performance and acoustic infrastructure. Meanwhile, the budget allows for the council to continue supporting many community initiatives such as the Lismore Lantern Parade and the North Coast National Show.
"This is a very sensible budget and while Council has to be incredibly mindful of its financial constraints in the current economic climate, it still allows Council to progress some very important projects that enhance the city's infrastructure, social capital and footing as the regional centre for both business and the arts," he said.
The draft Plan results in the average urban household's general rates increasing by the rate-pegging maximum limit of 3.6%, as set by IPART. Charges for waste, wastewater and water services will increase in line with the increased cost of delivering those services including a contingency for new infrastructure and repairs.
For financial reporting purposes the 2012/13 net operating result for the year before capital grants and contributions is a deficit of $6.866 million. The cash position is balanced. As an ongoing net operating result deficit is not sustainable and changes to the way LCC conducts business will be required to address the council's long-term financial sustainability. This challenge will be addressed during the development of the new Community Strategic Plan in 2012/13.
The Plan is on public display until Friday, June 15 2012. You can view the draft 2012/13 Operational Plan in the 'Have Your Say' section on the council's website, or at Council's Corporate Centre, 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, and the CBD Office, 55 Magellan Street, Lismore. It can also be viewed at all regular rural locations.