YOUR SAY: Is council's 'tough love' budget tough enough?
KEEN to have your say regarding how the Lismore City Council spends its money?
Well, here's your chance.
On May 21st, Council will place its draft Imagine Lismore Operational Plan (2018/19 budget) on public exhibition for 28 days, with residents able to view at its offices or online.
They are spending $100,000 on a Service Level Review to see what you think and you have until June 17 to respond.
Mayor Isaac Smith said it's important residents make their thoughts to council know as there could be some difficult times ahead for ratepayers regarding possible cuts to services.
"In the 2018/19 draft budget we have included funding for a Service Level Review, which would allow us to start a conversation with our community to ask what services are important to our ratepayers, and when crunch time comes, what services should we keep and which ones should we cut,” he said.
"We are making tough decisions to funnel more money into roads and infrastructure, which is a step in the right direction.”
Council said its net operating result for the year is a $16.524 million surplus.
Excluding capital revenues (grants and developer contributions) the result is a $1.583 million surplus.
Cr Smith said while the Council's operating result is positive, a cash deficit of $42,700 has been reported.
Cr Smith said while it's not considered significant, this is not in line with Council's Financial Sustainability Policy, which states there should be a $200,000 surplus.
"This not ideal but I believe we have struck the best balance we can in what is a tight financial climate for us (and) now it's time for us to hear from the community,” he said.
"This year we have put an extra $1.6 million into roads and assets, which helps us begin to address our infrastructure backlog (as) we know there is an issue with roads and we are working hard to fix it.”
Cr Smith said he is also pleased Council has only applied the state rate peg.
The general rate (after applying the full rate pegging increase of 2.3 per cent) will increase the average urban residential rate by $26 to $1196. This means the average urban residential rate bill would rise to $3422.
"We don't want to put more pressure on our ratepayers,” he said.
”The reality is that in coming years, Council is looking at cuts to services, as our costs continue to escalate at a greater rate than our revenue.”
The 2018/19 budget is $166.329 million, which includes $42.5 million for roads and associated infrastructure, or 25.6% of the budget.
A total of $52.354 million in capital works is included in the 2018/19 financial year. This includes:
. $13.58 million for parks and recreation;
. $12.41 million on roads and associated activities;
. $6.72 million in wastewater infrastructure;
. $6.40 million for plant replacement;
. $4.93 million in water infrastructure;
. $2.80 million for waste disposal - Landfill Cell 2; and
. $1.67 million for footpaths - CBD and renewals.
There is also $797,200 for asset management projects; $786,000 for stormwater management projects; $685,200 for improvements at Lismore Regional Airport; $633,000 for CCTV cameras in Lismore's CBD; $584,600 for Richmond Tweed Regional Library resources; $100,000 for Northern Rivers Quarry infrastructure; and $100,000 for the Information Services Replacement Strategy.
In relation to the typical residential bill, water will increase to $911 (an increase of $47 or 5.44 per cent), wastewater to $926 (an increase of $40 or 4.51 per cent) and waste collection to $305.15 (an increase of $7.45 or 2.5 per cent).
The draft budget can be viewed at Council's Corporate Centre, 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, or via www.lismore.nsw.gov.au on the 'Your Say Lismore' community consultation portal.
Submissions can be made online, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to the General Manager, Lismore City Council, PO Box 23A, Lismore, NSW 2480.
Submissions must be received by 17 June 2018.