THE Bega Valley Shire Council says it will need to have “difficult discussions” with ratepayers in the coming year about the future of some council assets.
The comment came yesterday as media were briefed about the council putting its draft 2014-15 budget on public exhibition.
Along with the draft budget, the 2014-15 draft fees and charges and draft operational plan are also on public exhibition.
General manager Leanne Barnes and finance manager Lucas Scarpin said the budget sits well within the council’s 2012-2017 BVSC Delivery Plan and, longer term, within the 2030 Community Strategic Plan.
This budget also sits in the middle of the council’s IPART-approved Special Rate Variation, which this year is the highest at 5.5 per cent (2013-14 was five per cent, as is 2015-2016).
This year the special variation will provide around $500,000 of the $4.7million BVSC plans to spend on renewing existing recreational infrastructure, which includes sporting grounds, parks, public amenities and halls.
The BVSC’s pools are also part of its recreational assets and are currently the subject of a council review.
“There wouldn’t be another local council our size with our population with the number of pools or halls,” Ms Barnes said.
“And there is an expectation about quality service provision, but there is also efficiency and resourcing application.
“We already spend over $1million on our pool facilities every year, that’s without the beach pools.
“We’ve got to get smarter about how we do some of these things, but also we are going to have to frank discussions with the community about, okay if you are willing to accept a lower level of service and fund a whole range of things, we can put that to council.
“But if you want to up the ante on a number of things, then let’s have a really considered discussion and it’s a tough one to have, but that’s the challenge for us in 14/15.
“[Communication firm] Two Cents will be assisting us, so we are going to have guidance on some difficult discussions we are going to have with the community,” Ms Barnes said.
The 2014-15 draft budget, operation plan and fees and charges can be viewed online at www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au, at BVSC chambers or at any shire library.