Rates rise as council eyes future

KIAMA councillors have endorsed a "responsible" budget for 2014-15, which aims to protect its financial status and help ensure the council's survival.

Kiama ratepayers face an average rate rise of $30 in the next financial year.

Residential rates will rise 2.3 per cent on July 1.

Councillors endorsed the council's $61 million budget last Tuesday night.

Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler believed it was a "responsible" budget.

"We want to protect our financial status," Cr Petschler said.

"I think that's going to become a key factor of councils surviving in the future, and we want to make sure that we leave the council in a healthy state."

Cr Petschler said it was a good budget in terms of capital works.

He said the council had benefited from the state government's Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme, which provides councils with a subsidy in interest costs on loans to fund their infrastructure works.

"That's helped us a lot in terms of catching up on our infrastructure, roads and drainage, so we've caught up quite a bit on that, using those funds, at low interest rates," he said.

"There is some danger on the horizon with the four-year ban [federally] on increases in the financial assistance grant; that will be an accumulative loss over the next four years.

"So there will be some further belt tightening as time goes on, because those grants will reduce.

"But as it stands now we're comfortable, we've got a good financial status.

"We've kept the budget in the black, and we're getting quite a bit of work done next year."

The council will allocate $650,000 of the estimated $1.3 million required to decommission Jerrara Dam, as well as $300,000 for the Jamberoo CBD upgrade.

It was proposed to increase all Leisure Centre membership prices by five per cent.

"It is now recommended to only increase the membership prices by three per cent to reflect the cost of increased wages within the Leisure Centre and to remain attractive to local residents and visitors," the council's report stated.

A proposal for a car park and toilet facility at Loves Bay at the northern end of the Kiama Coastal Walk attracted a 42-signature petition opposing it. Petitioners are concerned about the loss of natural beauty.

The council has allocated $25,000 for a toilet and $50,000 for car parking at the northern end of the Coastal Walking Track in the 2014-15 budget.

The council has been considering two options for the provision of car parking: a leased area on the RailCorp land above the tunnel in Kalang Road, and on the public reserve below Elanora Road.

"Given that negotiations with RailCorp are still ongoing it is recommended that both items remain in the delivery program and that a detailed report be presented to council on the options once the information is available," the report said.

"Further discussion with affected residents is proposed once the options are clear."

The council also received a proposal from the Gerringong Lions Club to convert the Gerringong Netball Club building to a Men's Shed.

The Lions Club has proposed that if the council meets the cost of the removal and disposal of the asbestos roof and supplies the materials for the new roof sheeting, the club would provide the qualified trade labour to carry out the work on the roof as well as some internal maintenance and repairs.

The total contribution requested from the council is $20,500.

This request was subject to a report at the May council meeting.

"There were savings in the current budget reported to that meeting and this contribution could be allocated from those savings that were set aside in reserves," the council's report stated.

The council's domestic waste management charge for 2014-15 will rise by 12.45 per cent.

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