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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
• 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