Residents say no to council budget proposals

About 100 residents rallied outside Wollongong City Council's Burelli Street headquarters last night, calling on councillors to scrap all budget options put forward in the financial sustainability review.

Organised by residents' group Save Our Services, the gathering demanded the retention of services, which could face the chop under two of the options endorsed by councillors last night.

This included users of Unanderra Library, Lakeside Leisure Centre and the city's ocean pools.

They were joined by United Services Union members and council workers, and waved signs saying, "Flush out management not pools", "Keep 'derra library open" and "Don't blame workers".

Rally organiser Stephen Spencer said he hoped the strong showing would urge councillors to spend longer consulting the community before they made up their minds about how to save $21 million a year.

Mr Spencer and the Save Our Services group have been vocal in their criticism of the council's "citizens' panel" and said the administration needed to "go back to the drawing board" instead of asking the community for feedback on three "restrictive" options.

"We don't want the council to restrict itself or the community to just those options, we want them to put everything back on the table and do a more detailed analysis of the council's financial situation," Mr Spencer said.

"We believe these options are channelling the process down to an inevitable conclusion, which is that there will be a rate rise and services will be cut."

Speaking to the crowd, South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris hit out at councillors who suggested reducing jobs and workers' conditions should be part of the budget cuts.

"You can't divide this city between the workers and ratepayers, because the workers live in this city and are ratepayers too," Mr Rorris said.

"We will fight this battle as one community."

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