Barry Leddicoat

Byron council tops community spending

BYRON Shire Council spends the most dollars per resident on community services such as aged and child care centres and employing community development staff, according to the latest comparative data on NSW councils from 2010-11.

It also tops per capita spending on recreation and cultural services, environmental management, and public safety.

Yet despite being the holiday capital of the Northern Rivers, Byron to Ballina and Richmond Valley in the population wars.

Ballina grew by 1.39% over the five years to 2011 while Richmond Valley grew by 1.41%. Further back was Byron on 1.16%, while Lismore grew by a paltry 1.03% - not such a good story for the regional centre.

But it was community services spending which highlighted the biggest gaps between councils.

While Byron spent $87 per person, Lismore was a long way back in second place on $36, Ballina just $16 (surprising given its high elderly population), with Richmond Hill a tiny $1.47.

On that measure Richmond Valley only beat out Deniliquin council for the wooden spoon in Group 4 councils (regional centres with populations of less than 70,000) which spent $1.18.

According to Byron Shire acting general manager, Phil Holloway, the spend per person on services in Byron was higher because of its lower population base.

"Council still aims to provide the same services as the larger Councils but with less funds. The end result is a high spend per capita," said Mr Holloway.

"However, Byron Shire does have some specific programs or initiatives which can have an impact. For example, the Environmental Levy and the Tweed Byron Bush Futures Program is reflected in under Environmental management services. And Council also has significant childcare services it provides that fall under Community Services."

All Northern Rivers' councils spend more than average per person in their group on health services, but Richmond Valley council topped the chart with $34 per person, Lismore was second on $20, and Byron and Ballina further back on $16.

Byron also spent the most on housing and community amenities with $144 per person versus Lismore's last place on $69.

Council spend per person:

  • Community Services:

Byron $87, Lismore $36, Ballina $16, Kyogle $10, Richmond Valley: $1.47

  • Public Order and Safety:

Byron $72, Lismore $52, Richmond Valley, $49, Kyogle $49, Ballina $36

  • Environmental Management Services:

Byron $233, Ballina $203, Richmond $197, Kyogle $185, Lismore $162.

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