Lismore councillors have voted on a revised delivery program and operational plan, including a special rate variation that would lead to a 31 per cent rate increase over four years.
Lismore councillors have voted on a revised delivery program and operational plan, including a special rate variation that would lead to a 31 per cent rate increase over four years. Marc Stapelberg

'This budget will kill Lismore': Councillor

CONTROVERSIAL changes to Lismore's delivery program and budget, including plans for a 31 per cent rate hike over five years, will signal the death of Lismore, according to one councillor.

At Tuesday night's extraordinary meeting to vote on the revised delivery program and operational plan annual budget, Cr Gianpiero Battista said he thought the documents were "poorly designed".

"This budget will kill Lismore, especially the CBD," he said.

"This is not a real plan - this will hit the ratepayers. I have no hope in this."

Cr Adam Guise who also voted against the reports, said the council was "mean-fisted".

"Yes, we are in a broken funding model," he said.

"As councillors we are not an economic razor gang."

However some councillors supported the tough measures being proposed to address the council's $6.1 million black hole.

Cr Neil Marks said it was time to take responsibility for the financial woes.

"Playing pet projects is partly what got us into this position," he said.

"This is the budget we need to have and yes, some parts are ugly and we need to send it out to the public."

He also admitted plans for a special rate variation would not be popular but, in a curious turnaround, then voted against the motion to put the delivery program and operational plan on public exhibition.

In a tight vote, Mayor Isaac Smith was forced to use his casting vote to pass the motion.

It included an amendment from Cr Vanessa Ekins to save the BMX track at Nesbitt Park in South Lismore.

Those who voted in favour were Crs Ekins, Eddie Lloyd, Darlene Cook, Elly Bird and Isaac Smith, who as also used his casting vote.

Those against were Crs Nancy Casson, Greg Bennett, Gianpiero Battista, Neil Marks and Adam Guise, while Cr Bill Moorhouse was on leave.

Cr Smith said he was relieved the motion was passed.

"I am really positivise about next year's budget - we have turned a $6 million dollar deficit into a $1 million surplus," he said.

"We are saving the future."

Cr Bird said she acknowledged the fact that due to issues, "with waste, the quarry and with our internal processes", hard decisions must be made.

"There are proposals the community will not enjoy... unpopular proposals such as the special rate variation over a number of years," she said.

'But this special rate variation is not to fix the deficit, it is for things we might want to do in the future, not fix the deficit."

The SRV would be staged over three to five years, starting next year, and would be retained permanently in the rates base.

The total cumulative percentage increase is 31.4 per cent by 2023-24.



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