BLACK HOLE: Lismore City Council's elected representatives are yet to decide which current and potential projects and services will be cut to close the $1.6 million gap in the budget.
BLACK HOLE: Lismore City Council's elected representatives are yet to decide which current and potential projects and services will be cut to close the $1.6 million gap in the budget. Supplied

How can council fix its $1.6 million black hole?

POSTPONING the demolition of the Lismore Lake Pool would save $450,000 and help council plug its $1.6 million financial black hole.

It's just one of the options Lismore City councillors discussed at a briefing on Monday night to look at how to bridge a budget with $130 million expenditure and only $128 million income.

At the briefing, council's chief financial officer Rino Santin walked councillors through various options to bring the books back into the black for 2018-19.

He said the original figure of $2 million had been brought down to $1.6 million.

He said the $2million was made up of four parts:

 

A mistake of $500,000 was made where a biodiversity of rates was entered twice.

 

$500,000 deficit associated with waste revenues.

 

$500,000 impact associated with the quarry operations.

 

$500,000 in asphalt operations after council decided to lease out operations, which has reduced risks and revenues.

He said a meeting to confirm the operational budget would likely be rescheduled for May 14, in order to allow councillors extra time to "get their heads around the budget.

"The May 7 briefing will be held but the only item of the agenda is to defer the meeting one week," Mr Santin said.

"At this stage the councillor briefings are not decision-making forums, they are looking at options and there is a significant amount of financial information to digest."

Mr Santin said the council would reconsider submissions included last year before considering new submissions for this year, with the target of achieving a positive cash position of $200,000.

He said this would result in changes to projects, services and service levels.

"The May meeting agenda will comprise six items, including 300 lines (items) of information," he said.

"These contain details of current and potential projects and services."

Cr Darlene Cook said the exercise had been a real wake-up call for councillors who didn't have a financial background.

"It has been a very stressful experience and councillors are becoming aware that building infrastructure results in ongoing maintenance and depreciation costs," she said.

"We decided one way to save $450,000 was to postpone demolishing the lake pool."

Cr Neil Marks said "we need to bite the bullet and find the savings".

But Cr Gianpiero Battista said he believed there was not much to cut from the budget.

"There has to be better management as otherwise history will be repeating itself," he said.

Cr Nancy Casson said the council needed to look for internal solutions to the deficit.

"I believe we are extremely heavy in terms of staff and salaries," she said.

On social media, Cr Greg Bennett posted "another positive coming out of last night was that things which I have been arguing against - like more indoor staff, rainbow crossings, tree registers etc - may also be deferred."

Cr Bill Moorhouse said "we have to maintain what we currently have".



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