Mayor predicts pain for people in budget

TWEED mayor Joan van Lieshout says she will try to keep council rates down as families battle to deal with their own budgets in the wake of today's horror NSW Government mini-budget.

But the success of her promise could still depend on the outcome of a Supreme Court case lodged by retired accountant Terry Sharples against the seven year plan introduced by the council's previous administrators, and which includes a schedule of rate rises.

Cr van Lieshout said yesterday local families and the council would be hurt by today's mini budget which is likely to include raising various taxes and scrapping subsidies for fuel in northern NSW and free school bus transport plus axing the annual $50 back to school allowance for families with school-aged children.

She warned the increased fuel prices would hurt the costs of running the council's fleet of vehicles and the council may have to look at issues such as provision of car parking outside schools if scrapping free bus travel leas to more parents driving children to school.

"Council is going to have to look very seriously at our budgeting," Cr van Lieshout said.

"We have to pull in the belt. We have to exercise caution and look very carefully at our budget. Personally, if I could do anything to affect the rate rise I would.

"I don't see why ratepayers should pick up the bills."

Cr van Lieshout warned years of "mismanagement" by the NSW Government was now resulting in the "beginning of pain" affecting the grass roots of families and council.

"Certainly the loss of the $50 back to school allowance and the free bus transport will hurt," she said. "I don't know how families will bear the cost."

The boss of Neumann Petroleum which runs one of Murwillumbah's smallest but cheapest petrol stations has vowed to keep the station operating even if petrol sales decline.

Yesterday general manager of Neumann Petroleum Charles Wright said the company's Murwillumbah station, which offers driveway service, was an important part of its network of Northern NSW fuel outlets, was associated with a depot, was an important distributor of lubricants and served the local cane industry.

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