Passion on show during Council's budget debate

Monday night was one of the most fiercely-debated Council meetings that Dubbo has seen and I couldn’t be prouder of the discussion that took place.

Budget time is always difficult for Councillors because they have to balance the needs of a Council and its ability to earn revenue through fees and charges with that of ratepayers and residents, who are the ones that will be burdened with those fees and charges.

The majority of Councillors just blindly voting for every single increase proposed could have had a terrible impact on people.

On Monday night we saw some strong debate on water and sewerage charges. It was proposed that the charges rise by 5 per cent compared to the last financial year. After plenty of discussion, Council ultimately decided on an increase of 2.7 per cent.

I believe this is a much fairer result given the current economic climate and the fact we are suffering from one of the worst droughts on record. It is in line with inflation and will be less of a burden on ratepayers, especially those on a pension.

Councillors also voted to amend the fees and charges associated with the Dubbo Aquatic Leisure Centre lane hire. Those fees will only increase by 2.7 per cent as well.

I think these are fairer outcomes. The majority of submissions to the budget referred to the issues of water and sewerage charges and lane fee hire. People were concerned both were too high so the Council listened and reacted to that.

We also had Councillors arguing passionately for their position and it was nice to see that commitment. If you didn’t see the exchange between Councillor Stephen Lawrence and Councillor Dayne Gumley on Monday night, I would encourage you to look at Council’s webstream because it was two Councillors who were arguing for what they believed in.

I have said that this is a collaborative and cohesive Council and that hasn’t changed. But from time to time there will be differences of opinion and our Councillors were able to make their arguments then shake hands at the end.

This budget focuses on ensuring the unprecedented capital works program in the region is completed and the ongoing maintenance of the projects can also be funded.

Exciting projects that will be completed in the upcoming financial year include Purvis Lane, the Victoria Park redevelopment, and the upgrading of Wellington Aquatic Leisure Centre.

Capital projects such as the Rural Fire Service training facility and the Batistells and Pavans sporting fields will commence in the next 12 months. We will also begin work on upgrading our water and sewerage infrastructure for the future.

All of these are great results. This is a Council that is looking to the future and ensuring that it is fiscally responsible and able to meet the needs of residents. Dubbo is a great place to live and we want to ensure it stays that way.

Last Edited: 04 Jul 2019

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