The communities of Lismore and surrounds are being asked for feedback on how the local council spends its money. This is a chance for residents to have their say.
Council put its draft Delivery Program (2017-21) and Operational Plan (2019/20 budget) on public exhibition last Friday for community feedback.
The net operating result for the year is a $3.066 million surplus. Excluding capital revenues (grants and developer contributions) the result is a $3.879 million deficit.
A cash surplus of $1.198 million has also been reported.
The 2019/20 budget is $163.522 million, which includes $44.2 million for roads and associated infrastructure, or 27% of the budget.
A total of $34.17 million for acquisition of assets is included in the 2019/20 financial year. Some of the major projects include: $10.69 million for roads and associated activities; $5.92 million on parks and recreation; $4.48 million on wastewater infrastructure; $4.28 million on water infrastructure; $2.82 million for plant replacement; $2.43 million for waste disposal – Landfill Cell 2; $1.25 million for waste disposal – MRF, capping & planning; and, $1.23 million for Stormwater Management Services.
There have been some major changes required to provide a cash surplus. These changes include: the Roads Rehabilitation Program being reduced by $1.129 million; downscaling production at Blakebrook Quarry for at least twelve months saving $3.6 million; the Drainage Reconstruction program has been reduced to $nil (saving approximately $200,000); no transfer of funds to reserve for Council’s share of costs for Tucki Tucki Creek Acquisitions (saving approximately $110,000); and Lismore Memorial Baths swim season reduced to six months, saving $61,400 p.a.
The budget also outlines some minor changes to fees and charges.
This year’s budget includes a general rate increase of 2.7% (rate peg) as well as increases to waste charges (1.8%), water charges (4.6%) and wastewater charges (1.8%). For the average residential property, rate bills will increase by $99.54 to $3,521.
The budget also includes provision for extensive community consultation about a special rate variation (SRV) that would allow Council to improve roads and footpaths, support business growth and provide better parks and facilities.
If the community is supportive of the SRV, it would be staged over three to five years from 2020/21.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW (IPART) requires Council to advise the community that it will be entering into consultation about future rate increases. IPART also requires that prior to the consultation that it publish the full potential of any proposed rate increases.
Important to have the conversation with the community
Mayor Isaac Smith said it was important to have the conversation with the community about the level of service they expect from Council and how it is paid for.
‘We have managed to turn a $6 million deficit into a $1.2 million surplus by making significant internal changes and savings without impacting upon our residents,’ he said. ‘But if we want to grow our city, improve infrastructure and the quality of life of all residents, then we will need to increase revenue into the future.’
The consultation process will include a dedicated page on ‘Your Say’ Lismore, promotion of the consultation process, face to face workshops and information kiosks at local events and other workshops. Council proposes to undertake this consultation from August 2019.
The draft documents can be viewed at Council’s Corporate Centre, 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, the Lismore and Goonellabah libraries, Nimbin Visitor Information Centre or online via the ‘Your Say Lismore’ community consultation portal at https://yoursay.lismore.nsw.gov.au/.
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 21 June 2019.