Council's big expenditure
SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council managed to strip $5 million from its draft budget but big expenditure still means rate revenue needs to go up 9.7 per cent.
The Daily News is asking readers, where would you like to see council cut its spending?
Picking through the 2010-11 budget “media kit” some big expenses stuck out like a sore thumb, including the fact an external consultant was hired to help draw up the new differential rating system.
The Daily News asked council how much this consultant cost, but received no response by time of print.
Libraries in the region were big winners and will receive a whopping $2 million in the next financial year.
A library staff member told the Daily News yesterday their membership currently sat at 20,800, which works out to about $100 per person.
The humble moggy has turned into a budget bugbear after State Government told local authorities to implement cat registration in their regions.
SDRC has been forced to fork out $400,000 for facilities and for a new Local Laws Officer whose job it is to ensure all cats in the region are registered.
Mayor Ron Bellingham said the state-imposed legislation meant council was obligated to set up facilities where abandoned or stray cats can be housed, as well as fund an extra cat control officer and ancillary staff to set up databases and handle inquiries.
“This is a cost that will either need to be paid for by cat registration or be paid for by general ratepayers,” Cr Bellingham said.
Extending the 30 day discount period for paying rates by an extra 30 days will also cost council at least $60,000 in interest rates.
The budget sets out $13.504 million for work on council-owned roads and Director of Engineering Peter See said residents may see a “perceived drop in standards” this year as council carried out a “back to basics” program, because flood damage funding was no longer available.
Warwick Chamber of Commerce president John Randall – who is also the SDRC Economic Development Officer – welcomed the delivery of funding towards economic development.
“We see from the Budget Media Release that there will be funding for a number of business development activities including the Surat Basin Business Opportunities project,” Mr Randall said.
“The Chamber is looking forward to working with council on this activity. The Chamber regards the Surat Basin as one of the key drivers for our manufacturing/engineering businesses in the years ahead. It will certainly be the source of more job opportunities in Warwick for the future.
Mr Randall said it was also pleasing to see $70,000 allocated to undertake the recommendations of council’s new Economic Development Strategy.
“The Chamber looks forward to working with council in their implementation. The positive outcome of this is that the new strategy won’t be sitting on a shelf with no funds to implement it,” he said.
How would you cut council expenditure? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org