12.5 C
Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Byron Shire risks amalgamation

Latest News

Transforming lives, empowering individuals and uniting communities

A Sound Life, Australia’s first charity to transform the lives of people in need through free music, yoga and meditation programs is having an event this Sunday as a fundraiser for the COVID crisis in India.

Other News

Miracles left, right and centre?

It's emerged Scott Morrison had used a taxpayer-funded VIP jet to attend a Pentecostal conference on the Gold Coast.

Come and try basketball in Byron

The next generation of female basketball players, with coordinator Karen Irwin, turned up to a ‘come and try day’...

Why do we destroy what we love?

Nan Nicholson, The Channon I have been an environmental activist for over 50 years (I started when I was a...

Track has morphed

Kathy Gleeson, Suffolk Park I see in a letter, dated 1/12/20, of support to Council, the president of the Suffolk...

Boarding houses

Matthew O’Reilly, CABS president and Council candidate for the new Byron Greens The over-development of cramped boarding-house accommodation in Sunrise...

Lennox Community Garden celebrates terrific two

The Lennox Community Garden team recently had an early morning working bee and visit from Tamara Smith MP and they reflected on the two years that have passed since they first broke ground.

Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council (BSC) has been put on notice that its poor financial performance is risking the future viability of the council as a standalone entity.

New South Wales Treasury Corporation (TCorp), which was last year appointed by local government minister Don Page to report on the health of the state’s 152 elected councils, released a report card on each council this week.

After looking at each council’s financial history and applying a range of comparisons, TCorp warned that around 25 per cent of councils – including Byron – were in danger of failing financially within the next decade.

Of the four north coast councils, Tweed performed best financially, followed by Ballina. Lismore, like Byron, came in for criticism in its attention to road building and asset renewal.

But Byron GM Ken Gainger says successive state governments are partly to blame for the position of councils around the state, with a combination of cost shifting and rate capping hampering councils’ attempts to balance the books.

He added that this week’s announcement put in perspective the council’s decision last week to sell the Ocean Shores Roundhouse site and use the cash to start an infrastructure fund.

The TCorp report on BSC says, ‘Based on our review of both the historic financial information and the 10 year financial forecast within Council’s long term financial plan we consider Council’s financial position to be weak and it is deteriorating in respect of its longer term sustainability’.

While the current state government has not changed its election promise not to force troubled councils to amalgamate, it has avoided restating the commitment since the report cards were issued earlier this week.

The report drew attention to four key points, in particular the council’s infrastructure backlog and the deteriorating condition of its roads. These were: operating deficits; maintenance and asset renewal; road repair backlogs; and an ageing population.

Mr Gainger said Byron Shire Council was not alone in needing to partner with the community in coming up with solutions to structural financial challenges.

‘This report shows that while the community has a right to be concerned about how Council will sustainably fund assets and services over the long term, the situation in Byron Shire simply mirrors what is occurring in other NSW local government areas, and particularly across the majority of the north coast,’ he said.

‘The report highlighted there are some features unique to north coast councils that place extra pressure on our finances. These features include being located in an area highly prone to floods and storms, hosting holiday peak crowds that place great pressure on facilities, the region’s popularity as a place for retirement, which makes ageing populations a significant issue, and a high demand for a variety of services due to the age mix of local and tourist populations.’

Mr Gainger said it was important the community was aware of the information in the Treasury report.

TCorp reported that the council had ‘incurred increasing operating deficits (excluding grants and contributions for capital purposes) in each of the past four years, and these deficits are forecast to continue over the forecast period’.

It advised Council was not spending ‘sufficient amounts on maintenance and asset renewal and in the long term this will reduce the quality of assets and potentially impact on the provision of services’.

Unsurprisingly, the report said that road infrastructure backlog is already at a critical level, and further underinvestment will impact on the quality of services offered to the community.

Finally it warned that ‘with an increasing ageing population Council needs to address these issues and consider means of generating additional revenues or reducing operating expenses.

The report said that Council had ‘significant cash and investments reserves’ and advised that ‘the expenditure of part of these reserves would better enable asset renewal and maintenance’.

Mr Gainger said, ‘further, extensive, community consultation will be required as we proceed to implement our reform package, comprising a combination of revenue increases, expenditure reductions and service level reviews’.

‘With the state government currently reviewing the local government sector, the Byron Shire community has to be prepared to make important financial decisions now to make sure the Byron Shire has a sustainable local government into the future; one that understands and is connected to the community, but also one that can afford to provide the infrastructure and services the community expects.’


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Council cannot expect to grossly miss-manage expenditure, then simply have rate-payers make up the short-falls. Look around Byron Shire and you will see countless examples of gross negligence with scarce funds. The numerous errors during the construction of the sports fields are perfect examples. Massive amounts wasted, not to mention do we need such a complex for Byron Bay. Who will fund the maintenance thereof …. the huge numbers utilizing the venue to date?? (Ocean Shores still has nothing..)

    • Dave
      It should be noted that at the time of the former Council voting on the Regional Sports Centre, the GM of the day (Graeme Falkner) clearly advised Council and specifically then Mayor Barham, that the centre was unaffordable. He was crucified for being “negative”. That is the issue. Even when staff provide correct information, Councillors find the truth unpalatable.

  2. The sooner BSC is amalgamated withothers the better. This breaucratic run council is 30 years behind mainstream councils and needs a total rejuvenation. We are way beyond politics here and it is time the community realised it. Our sustainability is seriously threatened, and provision of well maintained infrastructure is essential to continue attracting tourism at a profitable level.

  3. Just as well some one’s capping council fees, they must be among the highest already. As for the Roundhouse sell-off, another example of the short-changing of the north end of the shire.

  4. I was told by a real estate person that BSC owns almost a whole street of property in Mullumbimby plus lots of other investments, is this true? is there any way of finding out what council owns? Seems if this is the case then its only the ratepayers that are poor.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Editorial: The beef about meat

Firstly, let me declare an interest: I have been a vegetarian for 49 years, so tasty cow parts are not high on my agenda.

What’s going on with gas?

David Lowe According to the prime minister, we’re in the midst of a ‘gas-led recovery’. Until about five minutes ago, the gas in question was...

Why do we destroy what we love?

Nan Nicholson, The Channon I have been an environmental activist for over 50 years (I started when I was a 15 y/o schoolgirl in Melbourne)....

Is hydrogen part of a sustainable energy future?

There’s a lot to like about hydrogen. For starters, it’s abundant. Hydrogen can store excess renewable power. When liquified, it’s more energy intense than fossil alternatives. In a fuel cell, it can generate electricity. When it’s burned, the only by-product is water.