Council budget deficit concern

WHICHEVER way it goes, Coffs Harbour City Council is forecasting a 2008/2009 budget deficit.

The council on Monday adopted its 2008/2011 management plan with two budget options, as the council awaits a decision from NSW Local Government Minister Paul Lynch on its application for a special rate hike.

However deputy mayor Cr Rod McKelvey, Cr Ian Hogbin and Cr Clive Joass all opposed the measures.

Budget option one is based on a 2.75 per cent increase in general income atop of the already approved 3.2 per cent rate pegging allowance, while option two is based solely on the rate pegging.

The first would result in a predicted $93,365 general account deficit, while the second would have a $133,365 deficit.

These deficits worried Crs McKelvey and Hogbin, while Cr Joass opposes rate hikes in general.

In his report to the meeting, general manager Stephen Sawtell said the council intended to deliver a balanced budget by the end of each financial year covered by the management plan.

“When the Minister's determination . . . is known, council will meet to rescind whichever budget scenario has been made redundant by the Minister's decision,” Mr Sawtell said.

“For 2008/2009, council has developed a strategy that allows a limited number of additional priority projects to be addressed with funding generated from a modest rate rise.

“It should be noted however, regardless of the Government's decision, the management plan incorporates a 10-point plan of efficiency and productivity measures aimed at extending the reach of council's resources in coming years.”

Cr David Featherstone was absent from the 45-minute meeting.

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