Budget includes 9.5pc rate rise
TWEED Shire Council has voted to adopt its draft budget which raises average rates by 9.5 per cent, with barely a change to draft documents put out to the public a month ago.
The decision has left some people who made submissions on the draft wondering if there was any point after the Council's general manager Mike Rayner told Greens Party councillor Katie Milne any major changes would delay the budget because it would have to be put on public exhibition again.
Instead Cr Milne was told she could make alterations at the first quarterly budget review.
“Why did we put it out on public exhibition if we weren't able to make changes for three months then,” she asked.
She was told rate notices had to go out by the end of July and time restraints meant the budget had to be adopted by July 1 at the latest.
“Any major change would force the budget to be put on display again,” said Mr Rayner.
Cr Milne wanted funding for a koala management plan following more than 140 submissions calling for the plan in the wake of claims that koala populations on the Tweed are dwindling.
She finally settled for a motion put by Mayor Joan van Lieshout asking Council officers to “seek opportunities for funding” and report back to a future Council meeting.
But a decision by councillors Warren Polglase and Kevin Skinner to vote against that motion stunned the already disappointed convenor of Team Koala Incorporated, Jenny Hayes who had been watching from the public gallery.
“I'm shocked and horrified,” said Ms Hayes.
“We had such a large proportion of koala submissions - the largest on any issue.
“This has been going on for 13 years. It's time for these councillors to take action on our severely depleted koala population.”
Another high-profile cause to fail to gain any funds from the budget was fencing of children's playgrounds near water.