Council defer non-urgent projects
LISMORE City Council is proposing an $8000 deficit for next year’s budget, which will rise to $108,000 if the special rate variation is not approved next week.
However, repairs to the town’s levee, part of which is threatening to collapse into the Wilsons River, have not been included and would put at least a $200,000 hole in the budget.
Also not included is the likely increase in the cost the council must pay for the Richmond-Tweed Regional Library.
In a blow to the area’s sporting groups, councillors voted to defer for a year any non-urgent upgrades of rural and urban sport fields, saving $179,000.
Despite previously telling South Lismore residents that the second stage of the Nesbitt Park upgrade would be carried out this year, it will now only go ahead if government grants can be found.
Ratepayers, who are already facing a 3.51 per cent rate increase on top of the annual 2.6pc increase, will be also slugged an average increase in fees and charges of 8.61 pc, or $197.40.
Finance manager Rino Santin said the increases were designed to offset higher State Government charges for waste and water usage and would not add to the council’s bottom line.
Councillors at a workshop on Wednesday night went through the budget documents line by line in an attempt to bring in a balanced budget.
There is about $427,500 in new spending next year, including an extra $100,000 for legal costs in preparations for the council to fight an appeal to its refusal to allow the proposed expansion of the Champion’s Quarry at Tucki Tucki.
The only new borrowing budgeted for next year is $1 million for the Mains Replacement program.
Mayor Jenny Dowell said the community would have a chance to express its opinion on the budget once it went on public display before it was finalised on June 8.
Councillors agreed on Wednesday night that even if the council and State Government did not approve the special 3.51pc rate variation they would go ahead with some of the proposed projects tied to the rate rise, albeit on a much-reduced scale with at a total cost of $100,000 next financial year.
These include the development of a biodiversity management strategy and its implementation, both costing $60,000 a year during the next two years.
It will also fund the ongoing position of a city centre manager to undertake business promotions at a cost of $40,000.
ON THE WAY UP
Waste water charges up an average $62, or 11.4 per cent.
Waste collection charges up an average $17, or 8.3pc.
Business collection service up $20, or 9.1pc.
Water charges up an average $65, or 12.7pc.