Bruce Thomas

A huge hole in Bellingen's budget

BELLINGEN councillors were alerted to a projected deficit estimate of $478,000 over four years when they met to discuss annual budget allocations on Wednesday.

Director of Corporate Services Peter Wilson said the next two years would be particularly difficult due to the global financial crisis.

“We are anticipating a decrease on investment income of $240,000 for this financial year alone,” Mr Wilson said.

“The biggest deficits will come in the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 financial years.”

He said $500,000 needed for the acquisition of both the Telstra site and the neighbouring Department of Lands site in Bellingen's Church Street had been covered by working funds.

“This has however had an impact on our working funds balance, which is now very close to the $1 million threshold.

“We will have to be very prudent with the development of our medium- to long-term budgets.”

Deputy mayor Cr Kerry Child said the councillors had agreed to accept the deficits and would approve the budget at the April 22 council meeting.

“We will just take it one year at a time,” Cr Child said. “There won't be any 'slash and burn'.

“We are not going to pull things that are already planned and in our budget.”

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