Byron Council’s Community Solutions Panel (CSP) wrapped up last week, and have presented their final report to councillors on how the recent rate-rise money will be spent on the shire’s infrastructure.
The panel of 28 randomly selected anonymous residents and ratepayers were brought together by the NewDemocracy foundation at the request of councillors to improve trust within the community.
According to the CSP final report provided to The Echo, infrastructure was divided into categories, ranked in percentage according to importance. They were: urban roads (12.9 per cent), footpaths and cycleways (11.2 per cent), rural roads (10.7 per cent), urban stormwater (9.4 per cent), rural drainage (9.4 per cent), bridges and footpaths (9.3 per cent), public toilets (7.7 per cent), playgrounds and parks (6.6 per cent), community buildings (6.2 per cent), bus shelters (5.8 per cent), open spaces and sportsfields (5.7 per cent) and pools (5.1 per cent).
According to this particular model, councillors have committed to implement the panellists’ preferences.
A disclaimer in the report says, ‘It is not the intention of the CSP that this chart be used to divide infrastructure spending as per the exact percentages.
The chart is intended to inform Byron Shire Council’s decision-making priorities with a clear indication of how the community perceives the importance of various infrastructure categories.’
If the rates alone do not fund the priorities, the panel made a list of considerations to pursue.
- grants; finance from external sources;
- seeking partnerships or corporate sponsorship from interested ethical businesses within the values of the ascribed recommendation;
- pursue voluntary contributions from the tourist-based accommodation industry to reinvest back into community infrastructure – this would include festivals, hotels, hostels, and any other short-term accommodation based on tourism;
- consider the possibility of introducing paid parking in tourist hotspots; continue to lobby state government where appropriate for extra funds and levies;
- Council to continue to raise revenue through use of its assets and to continue to examine more ways to raise revenue in this way;
- address the leasing strategy of assets so that it is financially consistent; merchandise Byron Shire brands, with room to create a mobile phone app;
- community involvement in lobbying the state government with guidance from BSC;
short-term holiday letting paying for a licence to rent with severe penalties for non-compliance;
crowdfunding or sweat power/equity to build new facilities such as playgrounds;
- invest in a university partnership to provide education for the shire, with a potential long-term lease for a greenfield site; and
- invest in Cavanbah Centre to upgrade facilities to the level for elite sporting teams.’
The Echo was advised the cost for NewDemocracy’s consulting was $41,000.