Lismore City Council has acknowledged that with the current tight financial climate they will be looking to the community to determine which services they value and which services they are willing to have cut.
In preparation for this they are placing their draft Imagine Lismore Operational Plan (2018/19 budget) on public exhibition on 21 May for community feedback for 28 days.
The 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.
While the Council says the operating result is positive, a cash deficit of $42,700 has been reported. While 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. Now it’s time for us to hear from the community,’ said Mayor Isaac Smith.
‘This year we have put an extra $1.6 million into roads and assets, which helps us begin to address our infrastructure backlog. We know there is an issue with roads and we are working hard to fix it. We are making tough decisions to funnel more money into roads and infrastructure, which is a step in the right direction.’
Lismore City Council also decided to only apply the state rate peg to residents. A 0.41 per cent single year increase to business rates, to be retained in the rate base for five years, was approved by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal on May 15.
‘However 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. 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,’ said Mayor Smith.
‘It’s an important conversation we need to have with our community.’
The 2018/19 budget is $166.329 million, which includes $42.5 million for roads and associated infrastructure, or 25.6 per cent 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%), wastewater to $926 (an increase of $40 or 4.51%) and waste collection to $305.15 (an increase of $7.45 or 2.5%).
The general rate (after applying the full rate pegging increase of 2.3%) will increase the average urban residential rate by $26 to $1196. This means the average urban residential rate bill would rise to $3422.
The draft budget can be viewed at Council’s Corporate Centre, 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, or on our website at via the ‘Your Say Lismore’ community consultation portal. Submissions can be made online, emailed to [email protected] or sent to the General Manager, Lismore City Council, PO Box 23A, Lismore, NSW 2480.
Submissions must be received by 17 June 2018.