COUNCIL MEETING: The March 2019 meeting at Lismore City Council was lively as the budget deficit was discussed.
COUNCIL MEETING: The March 2019 meeting at Lismore City Council was lively as the budget deficit was discussed. Alison Paterson

'Critical' that council makes quick decision: Mayor

UPDATE, 9am: LISMORE mayor Isaac Smith said he was confident that councillors will make a decision supporting the proposed Lismore Development Plan, which targets the deferral or cancellation of 33 projects.

At the council meeting last night, councillors voted unanimously to hold a special briefing on Tuesday, March 19, to be followed by an extraordinary meeting at 7.30pm which will be open to the public.

Cr Smith said there was no time for further delays.

"It is critical council makes quick decision," he said.

"At the extraordinary meeting next week we will decide and I feel confident the plan as put forward by the consultants will be adopted by council."

 

Original story: STARING down the barrel of a $6 million black hole, Lismore councillors last night voted to defer making a decision on the 33 project hit-list.

The recommendation had been to defer or cancel a large number of projects in order to help manage the budget deficit.

Instead, councillors deferred a decision and it will be debated behind closed doors at a special councillor briefing next Tuesday, before an extraordinary meeting which will be open to the public.

The change of date came about after Cr Vanessa Ekins said she was very concerned abut the process of how the projects to be cancelled or deferred were selected.

She said she wanted more time to discuss and understand the reasons behind the matter in more depth.

"I am not happy," she said.

"On the two recent occasions when I asked when we could discuses it in more detail and this has not happened.

"I want this to be deferred and work-shopped."

The council's general manager, Shelley Oldham, said she was happy to go through this process but warned councillors that time was of the essence.

"I don't have a problem if this is deferred," Ms Oldham said.

"These projects for deferral or cancellation were not suggested by council staff, this is done by external consultants.

"If you want it deferred for a workshop, that's fine, but remember we have a significant financial shortfall."

A public gallery of around 18 people attend the meeting heard councillors vote to hold a special councillor briefing next Tuesday, March 19.

An extraordinary meeting will be held at 7.30pm which will be open to the public.

Earlier during the public access session, several residents voiced their concerns

Stalwart community activist Janine Wilson urged councillors to "make the hard decisions".

She said the elephant in the room was staff wages.

"I've been attending council meetings since 2003 the financial situation has been festering for many years... 10 years ago I heard talk about bringing in the administrators," she said.

"I am urging councillors to look beyond cuts and stop circumventing the cost of administration.

"Many ratepayers wonder how they will manage the inevitable rate increases.

"Apologies to Shelley who has come in with a new broom, but please work together."

Lismore residents Neville King and Big Rob also voiced their concerns.