Council draft budget to be approved

Public feedback on Naracoorte Lucindale Council’s 2018-19 draft budget has now closed.

While five people made submissions on the draft budget during the consultation period, no member of the public attended a special council meeting on Tuesday night to speak to their submission.

An hour is set aside at the special meeting each year for any member of the public to speak about the budget, but the public gallery was empty at the meeting.

The five written submissions mostly related to suggested works, with one pat on the back for the council.

A submission congratulated the council for including the sealing of Flinders Lane in the 2018-19 budget.

The other submissions were a complaint about a $25,000 amount being set aside for the town Christmas tree, when it could have gone towards a new water point at the CFS shed at Stewarts Range, suggestions for an improvement plan for Naracoorte Creek, a request to retain Hynam’s Miles Road as a narrow sealed road rather than reconstruct as a gravel road, and concern raised about the level of cleanliness and maintenance of the Naracoorte CBD toilets.

Councillors voted to accept the comments and submissions but only discussed a couple of them.

There was a healthy discussion about the future of the creek and the creek walk, and at the end councillors voted for the council to develop a master plan for the creek precinct.

The state of the town square toilets was discussed, and while some councillors said they had heard comments about the cleanliness being below par at times, it was agreed it was very hard to keep public toilets clean 100 per cent of the time. If one user left the toilets in an untidy state, they would stay untidy until the next cleaning cycle.

At the end of Tuesday night’s meeting, Cr Malcolm McLean said he wanted to discuss removing some items from the draft budget before it moved on to the next stage, but he was told that he had previously had the chance to do so through the budget process.

A surprised Cr McLean thought councillors would have a final chance to discuss items in the budget now that public consultation had closed, but he was told that wasn't the case.

“Hey, hey, hey, hang on,” he said “I can’t believe this. I want to get rid of the Christmas tree ($25,000), I want to get rid of the $150,000 bike path to the caves.”

Cr Ken Schultz asked: “Are we taking into account all these comments?”

Mayor Erika Vickery said people were entitled to their comments and opinions, but there had been a balanced discussion in the chamber and councillors had decided on the make-up of the projects in the draft budget.

She added that councillors had ample time at previous budget workshops to discuss what they did and didn’t want.

Cr McLean responded: “I won’t vote for the budget in that case.”

The draft annual business plan will now be taken to next week’s audit committee meeting, where the financials will be finalised, before it is presented to councillors to accept at the monthly meeting on June 26.

The only change made to the draft document will be removing a $25,000 amount for the possible employment of a part-time art and culture facilitator, because a grant application to help fund the role was unsuccessful.

As well, current property valuations will be recalculated to give the most accurate updated figures.