Ratepayers now have their chance to provide feedback on Lismore City Council’s plan to increase general rates by $42 to $1151.
Combined with proposed increases to fees and charges related to wastewater, water and waste, the average total urban residential rate bill would be $3,204.
The proposed increases are included in the council’s draft Imagine Lismore 1 Year Plan (2016/17 budget), which is on display for community comment until 14 June.
Lismore’s finance manager Rino Santin said the council’s net operating result for the year was a $14.143 million surplus. Excluding capital revenues (grants and developer contributions) the result is a $3.447 million surplus.
Mr Santin said while the result was an improvement, the council still needed to save another $4 million per annum to meet its financial goals.
The 2016/17 budget is $163 million, which includes $37.5 million for roads and associated infrastructure, or 23 per cent of the budget.
A total of $61.257 million in capital works is included in the 2016/17 financial year, which includes the $22 million upgrade of the South Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant, $15.6 million on new capital roadworks, $6.8 million in water main replacements and $5.3 million for the Lismore Quadrangle project, which includes a new Lismore Regional Gallery.
There is also $1.3 million for waste sorting machines to further improve recycling rates, almost $700,000 for improvements at Lismore Regional Airport and $380,000 for council/community solar farm projects.
The council will also spend $380,000 on upgrading CBD footpaths – the first of four instalments to refurbish the inner footpath of the CBD block.
Mr Santin said in 2016/17, fees and charges would generally increase by CPI.
‘In relation to the typical residential bill, water will increase to $828 (an increase of $46 or 5.9 per cent), wastewater to $855 (an increase of $47 or 5.8 per cent) and integrated waste to $293.30 (an increase of $6.30 or 2.19 per cent).
The general rate (after applying the full rate pegging increase of 1.8 per cent and the yet-to-be-approved Biodiversity Management Strategy special rate variation increase of 1.8 per cent) would increase the average urban residential rate by $42 to $1151.
This means the average total urban residential rate bill would rise to $3204.
Mr Santin said the council wass in the fourth year of a new financial framework, where the annual budget and four-year delivery plans were moving towards the goals set out in the Long Term Financial Plan.
‘We have made a commitment to the NSW Government that we will become financially sustainable by 2021, and we believe this commitment is largely why we were not forced to merge with Kyogle Council recently,’ Mr Santin said.
‘Council needs to work hard over the next four years to make good on that promise.
‘We will be holding a large community consultation soon to ask the community where and how we should make those savings.
‘There will be some tough decisions ahead for local residents and the new council elected in September.
‘If we can stay on track and meet our targets over the next four years, council will be completely in the black.’