Council pauses big projects, seeks support to ‘stay afloat’
BALLINA'S Mayor will kick tomorrow's council meeting off with a bang by revealing council's plan to call on State and Federal Governments for more financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With deficits forecast into the future for many local councils due to economic impacts from coronavirus, on Thursday, Mayor David Wright will move a mayoral minute focused on "getting on board" with the Local Government NSW's sector-wide campaign to obtain financial assistance, employment support and stimulus funding for the local government sector.
"It's essential to go with all the other councils on this, and hopefully the government might put aside some extra money to support us, or do it quicker because of it," Cr Wright said.
"We're getting in and making sure our foot is in the door- we've had a great capacity in our shire for delivering on government funding."
In the interim he said council staff was doing everything they could to "stay afloat."
Earlier this month, Ballina councillors decided to pause its biggest projects, in light of the substantial economic downturn impacting the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and the council's commercial property developments.
"If you are going to create jobs the best way to do is to give projects and let council run them, because a lot of our stuff is ready to go," he said.
"We've got 250 staff council and we haven't put anyone off, other than some staff at the airport, which is a separate businesses.
"We've given nearly a million dollars in rent subsidy to the businesses that we own.
"For example, at Wigmore Arcade, we've given business owners six months rent relief. We've still got DA's coming out our ears, there's no shortage of work into the future."
In terms of the amount they were calling for he said that it could be into to the tens of millions of dollars.
"We are confident, in the short term, the financial play of our general fund will be back in black in 2023. We've helped by pushing things out but we haven't cancelled anything."
Mr Wright said council would write to the local Federal and State Members, the Prime
Minister, the NSW Premier, the Federal Treasurer, the NSW Treasurer and
the NSW Local Government Minister to confirm their support for increased
financial assistance and stimulus funding for local government to help
councils operate effectively, maintain essential services and employment during the COVID-19