Residents prove to be an asset

SHELLHARBOUR ratepayers will have another chance to help decide priorities for the city's spending and asset renewal.

Residents have already placed their dots (see picture) to identify priorities such as road maintenance, sports fields, swimming pools, environment and community asset works.

Some also opposed the possibility of a significant rate rise to fund these activities.

Council recently hosted workshops throughout the city to help determine spending and funding alternatives for asset renewal, including a Special Rates Variation to address the city's poor state of asset renewal and maintenance.

The council's current infrastructure renewal ratio is 0.14; the state average is 0.84.

At the workshop at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space last Thursday, Flinders' Steven Doyle identified maintenance of roads and making the city more family-oriented as key issues.

"I'd be prepared to pay more rates if they're going to put the city hub on hold and spend more on public amenities, the environment, beaches, foreshores," the 69-year-old said.

Councillor Peter Moran recently criticised the possibility of rate rises and fee increases for use of sports fields, swimming pools and lodging development applications. He said many residents would be unable to afford the increases, claiming those paying the average rate could see rates increase from $976 to $1390 over four years.

Barrack Heights resident Sandra Pearson viewed roads and clearing of gutters and stormwater drains as vital.

"They need to maintain the buildings that they've got; Roo Theatre, Centenary Hall," the 67-year-old said. "We don't need a rate rise if we don't do the hub."

Deirdre La Gerche, 75, of Mt Warrigal said she would struggle to meet any rate rise above the rate-pegging limit. "I'm flat out paying mine on a pension now," she said.

Roo Theatre representatives want to retain key council-owned assets, such as the popular performance space.

"We were assured today it won't be sold off, so that is good news," artistic director Josif Jovanovski said.

The final workshop is tonight from 6pm-8pm at Albion Park Community Centre.

Mayor Marianne Saliba proposed each workshop would have different outcomes.

"Everybody has different priorities; some were surprising, others expected," she said.

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