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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Lismore Council set to ditch projects to fill $6m ‘black hole’

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Lismore City Council’s new GM Shelley Oldham. Photo Capgemini

Lismore GM Shelley Oldham has unveiled a ‘black list’ of 33 projects she recommends cancelling or postponing to rein in the Council’s $6 million budget deficit, announced last month.

Among some of the more controversial projects to be stalled would be updating the Floodplain Risk Management Plan (although floodway construction will still go ahead).

A feasibility study into more energy efficient lighting for NORPA would be canned, while the installation of a mid-scale renewable energy planned would be deferred.

Investigative work on a rail trail would also be put on hold, as would footpath upgrades, a wifi rollout, a renewable energy masterplan, and stage 2 construction of the Brunswick Street Depot.

The Bridge to Bridge plan would be deferred as well as a range of beautification and planting projects around the CBD and Transit Centre.

A number of the projects that the GM plans to save revolve around internal Council processes.

These include a review of the Enterprise Risk Management Plan, the introduction of electronic signatures, implementation of the Business Continuity Plan and of the Leadership Capability Development Program.

One project still on the agenda, which some critics won’t be happy about, is the acquisition of land and planning for a reservoir to service the contentious North Lismore Plateau development.

Lismore mayor Isaac Smith. (file pic)

Lismore mayor Isaac Smith told Echonetdaily that while they are still recommendations from staff to tonight’s council meeting, ‘I don’t anticipate a lot of debate as councillors are fairly united about the approach’.

‘I think the community understands we’re here to make good strategic decisions, so pet projects or things we can’t deliver at a sustainable cost should be dropped from the list for now.’

‘We’ve received a lot of grant funding so we want to deliver those projects.

‘We’re cutting some things because we just don’t have time to apply for new grants.

‘This is quick action that will mean we get back into a sustainable budget very quickly. We’re also looking at our core operations and how we can do everything better.

Cr Smith said administration and staffing had not been spared from the cuts.

‘There are cuts across the board.

‘A number of projects have been shelved that we may get back to in the future. But I’m fairly happy that this puts us in a good position to be fit for the future,’ he said.

Lismore City Council will vote on the list of projects to be cancelled or postponed at its meeting tonight.

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  1. Details of cuts to projects and services detailed here, but Council needs to be transparent in details of “administration and staffing” costs. The ratepayers should not bear the brunt of past mismanagement, no rate rises, cut staffing and overheads please.

  2. The big question is ‘Why is there a six million dollar black hole?’. No explanation so far as to how this occurred. Bad management, inept council, internal problems or poor performance from the mayor are all in the mix.


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