Costs and cuts a drastic battle plan

THREE jobs are gone and residents will pay more for services as Liverpool Plains Shire Council seeks to stave off the threat of amalgamation.

The council announced the drastic cost-cutting measures last week as part of a plan to address its “weak” financial position.

LPSC has until mid-2015 to find $1.9 million to break even and prove to the Independent Local Government Panel it is financially sustainable.

If the council cannot, then it could face the prospect of being merged with Gunnedah Shire Council, resulting in even more job losses and higher rates.

LPSC mayor Ian Lobsey said it was a regrettable situation but maintained the council had to act now to secure its future.

“While council is aware that increased rates, reduced services and additional charges are not popular, it has a responsibility to enhance its future financial sustainability and to ensure the good governance and management of the shire,” he said.

“Council is making cuts in the budget across all departments and hopes to keep the impacts to a minimum.”

The council initially resolved to apply for a special rate variation of 19 per cent to be applied to its 2014-15 budget.

But after an outcry at a series of public meetings held before Christmas, the hike was amended to 12.5 per cent.

Councillor Lobsey said residents were warned at the time that anything less than the full 19 per cent would necessitate a review of other services and charges.

“Community organisations will have to place greater reliance on their own funds to finance activities through increased fees and charges,” he said.

“For example, this budget requires an increase of fees for sporting facilities of 20 per cent. Fees and charges associated with cemeteries will increase by 30 per cent.

“Some services previously delivered without user cost through planning and development will now attract a fee. Some library fees and charges have also been reviewed.”

Councils across the north-west region have applied for special rate variations as they struggle to cope with greater demands on their resources.

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