Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is prioritising transport and traffic in its draft operational plan for 2022/2023.
It is planning to spend about $288 million in the next 12 months; $143 million of that has been earmarked for its capital works program, $126.3 million on the ongoing operational costs, $11.5 million on the cost of servicing debts and $8 million on developer provided assets.
Key projects include repairs and upgrades for Comboyne Road, Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive, Ennis Road, and Rocks Ferry Reserve.
Council now wants residents to have their say on the breakdown of the budget and the projects to be funded, which are forecast to cost $288.9 million; more than its projected 2022/23 revenue of $256.3 million.
On its website, council explains where the extra money will come from.
"We will be drawing on reserves to make up the shortfall and to minimise the impact on our community."
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's rate freeze will be in place from July 1 to June 30, 2025, as was decided at the February 16 council meeting.
When asked how the rate freeze will impact the budget, Mayor Peta Pinson said council's chief executive officer is committed to efficiencies throughout the organisation.
"Any core business should be looking for those when things are... a little bit tight," she said.
Cr Pinson admitted it was a "fairly controversial" decision to put a freeze on rates.
"All the rates we get from the community is never enough to do all the work that we have to do," she said.
"In saying that, our community has been through such trauma, such difficult times, and our small business community as well."
The 2021/2022 operational draft plan allocated $20.8 million to transport and traffic, $10.3 million to parks and recreation, $8.5 million to water management and $4.9 million to waste management.
This year, the allocation for transport and traffic has almost tripled, at $62.5 million.
Cr Pinson said the draft budget highlights council's priority to keep people safe as motorists and as pedestrians.
"Roads are obviously the number one concern within this region, especially after all the rain and the flooding that we've had," she said.
"We've really seen our road network decimated.
"I'm certainly looking forward to seeing all those projects come to the forefront and be delivered."
To have your say on council's draft operation plan, visit council's website haveyoursay.pmhc.nsw.gov.au/integrated-planning-and-reporting
Community consultation closes on June 1.
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