Lismore City Council’s ambitious 10-year plan will go on display for public feedback following an extraordinary meeting on Monday night.
The plan, Imagine Lismore, has been 18 months in the making after an extensive public consultation process, and aims to accommodate the increasing financial pressures on the council through some difficult cost-cutting decisions, as well as the community aspirations of a revitalised CBD.
Councillors voted eight to three in favour of exhibiting the plan following some debate questioning its debt service ratio, which is expected to reach 15 per cent of its annual income over the next decade.
Imagine Lismore project manager Simon Adcock said over the next four years the council needed to progressively work toward finding an extra $4 million in its annual budget to adequately fund road and wastewater infrastructure.
Initial cuts included the unpopular decision to close Goonellabah Library and the council’s CBD office in order to divert $700,000 directly into roads as well as cutting nine full-time positions, including four redundancies.
‘There were no easy decisions here. The cuts are not only critical for financial sustainability but also to deliver some of the great projects identified by the community during the Imagine Lismore consultation,’ Mr Adcock said.
‘There have been 60 years of neglect of our roads and other assets and it’s time for us as a council to get our head out of the sand and face those issues.’ The councillors have placed on exhibition measures for debate that won’t be popular with everyone.
‘If we’re serious about being a sustainable council into the future we have to make some tough decisions. The councillors have been very brave in the development of these plans.’
Following the cuts, the council hopes to stimulate the economy through a revitalised CBD with a raft of projects residents approved of through the consultation process.
These include a redeveloped Lismore High School site with a refurbished gallery and town square, new footpaths and improved roundabouts, and a large commercial office building in the CBD.
Other big-ticket projects include a new CBD council headquarters, the North Lismore Plateau residential development and the CBD riverside restoration.
‘Add to that a redeveloped Lismore Park, and a new health precinct with high-quality health services, and medium-density housing, and you start to see how the CBD landscape will be completely transformed in that time,’ Mr Adcock said.
‘People also told us that they are sick and tired of government agencies not listening and not working together. We will work with local service providers to encourage better communication, planning and coordinated service delivery.
‘One example is a community services hub in Goonellabah. These types of partnerships are the projects we will help facilitate [in the future].’
The three plans are on exhibition until June 14 and can be viewed online via the ‘Have Your Say’ section of Council’s website.
The public is invited to make submissions by post to the General Manager, Lismore City Council, PO Box 23A, Lismore, NSW 2480 or via email to [email protected].
Submissions should state reasons for objection or support. For enquiries phone Simon Adcock on 1300 878 387.