Council turns budget screws

By PETER CATON

A SUDDEN crash in Tweed's development boom has slashed Tweed Shire Council's expected income - forcing cuts to works programs and council employment.

Council administrators yesterday axed a range of programs as part of a quarterly budget review aimed at overcoming a slump of more than 60 per cent in contributions for works from developers and a 30 per cent fall in development application fees.

The fall in expected income has cut more than $800,000 from the current budget, while some development fees are going straight to the NSW government, which has taken over approval for major coastal developments.

To balance the budget which faced a swag of other blowouts, the employment of new staff has been frozen to save around $3.5 million.

Appointments in the planning department have been delayed, the planned appointment of new administration staff halted and the number of casual staff slashed.

Other changes have been made by deferring works programs until the next financial year and cutting maintenance.

The sudden development slump comes just 10 months after the NSW Labor government sacked the pro-development council elected in March 2004 and appointed three administrators.

But council finance staff have reported the "significant decrease in development activity within the Tweed Shire is consistent with other councils along the NSW coast".

Even so, one development raised the ire of more than 20 residents who packed the public gallery late yesterday to protest against a 76-lot housing subdivision on the old Terranora golf course.

Bilambil Heights residents called on the administrators to reject the development.



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