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Increase rates or slash services: council

In a report tabled at Clarence Valley Council’s April meeting, staff identified 43 services that could be cut – to save $7.599 million over the next four years – if a proposal for a special rate variation (SRV) is unsuccessful. The cuts are roughly equivalent to the $7.08 million in revenue that would be generated by the proposed SRV: eight per cent for each of three years from 2018/19 to 2020/21 (including an estimated two per cent rate peg per annum). The SRV, if adopted, would result in a permanent 25.9 per cent increase in rates by 2020/21. Staff wrote that “either further service reductions and/or elimination of some of Council’s discretionary services”, would be required if a SRV is not supported. In last week’s Independent, the mayor, Jim Simmons, wrote on the subject in a letter to the editor. “There is another option rather than the SRV, that is more cuts to services which would result in the loss of a further 25 jobs (it may be a lot more), bringing the job losses to well over 50 in total,” he wrote. “I doubt that a majority of the community would want to go down that path, but it is an option.” Other potential service cuts that have been proposed – in conjunction with an eight per cent SRV – were reported in the April 26 edition of the Independent. In his letter, the mayor wrote: “While the General Fund rate is planned to increase commencing in 2018/19, the rate for next year, 2017/18, will fall by an average of 3.2 per cent. “The cumulative increase of 25.9 per cent, including rate pegging, will follow a reduction of 3.2 per cent for next year.” The reduction he writes about is a result of the IPART [Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal] granting CVC a one-year-only 6.5 per cent increase for the 2016/17 financial year – that is 6.5 per cent minus two years of rate pegging: 1.8 per cent in 2016/17 and 1.5 per cent in 2017/18. The council will formally consult the community on these proposals following the tabling of its 2017/18 budget and operational plan at the May council meeting. Potential service cuts if a SRV is not supported • Cease providing regional airport services • Cease operation of the Grafton sports complex • Cease operation of the Maclean indoor sports centre • Cease operation of the Yamba indoor sports complex • Cease providing cemeteries • Cease providing catchment management services • Cease providing biodiversity services • Cease providing public halls services • Cease operation of the Maclean pool • Cease operation of the Grafton pool • Cease operation of the Yamba heated pool complex • Cease operation of the Yamba rock pool • Cease aquatic facilities administration • Cease providing sustainability projects / climate change services • Cease providing saleyards services • Cease providing community development administration services • Cease providing community initiatives donation program • Cease running the Plunge Festival • Cease providing youth services • Cease providing ageing & access services • Cease providing safe communities services • Cease providing indigenous services • Cease providing Clarence Regional Library services • Cease providing mobile library services • Cease operating the regional art gallery • Cease providing historical services • Cease providing community centres services • Cease providing economic development programs • Cease providing CED programs • Cease image library work • Cease street banner program • Cease involvement in business awards • Cease economic monitoring work • Cease providing digital hub services • Cease providing relocation guide • Cease economic development work with the marine & engineering cluster • Cease providing other economic strategic services • Cease sponsored events and festivals program • Cease providing cost mitigation program • Cease event industry development work • Cease providing visitor information services • Cease providing tourism marketing services • Cease providing industry liaison services