Budget options to be considered at Wollongong council meeting tonight

Wollongong councillors will tonight vote on the future budget scenarios to put on public exhibition over summer, as part of its ongoing financial sustainability review.

Wollongong City Council staff last week recommended that three of four options they outlined, all of which include some form of rate rise above the 2.3 per cent statewide rate peg, be open to community comment.

The report will go before councillors tonight.

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The fourth scenario, includes no rate rise, $14 million worth of service cuts and $7 million in job losses and efficiencies but was not recommended to go any further because of the community’s ‘‘strong opposition to significant service reductions’’.

Councillors can choose to go against the staff recommendation by putting all – or none – of the scenarios on exhibition.

However, based on comments made by councillors in the past week, it is expected they will allow residents to have their say over the three recommended options.

These scenarios are based on recommendations made by the council’s controversial citizens panel and have varying degrees of service cuts and efficiencies, with proposed rate increases of between 16 and 25 per cent over three years.

The council must notify the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) that it plans to apply for a special rate variation by Friday if it wants to raise rates for 2014/15.

So far, 14 other NSW councils have lodged plans to raise rates for the next financial year, according to the IPART’s website.

In the past two years, 43 of the state’s 152 councils – including Shellharbour and Kiama - have successfully applied for a rate rise.

Several community groups – representing users of Unanderra Library, Lakeside Leisure Centre and ocean pools – plan to hold a rally before tonight’s meeting.

To watch a live stream of the council meeting click here.

Read more:

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Group opposing Wollongong cuts plans rally

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