Delicate balance is on the money: Davis

WHEN it comes to deciding how to charge residents for council facilities, it’s a delicate balance between user pays and ratepayer subsidies.

But Orange City Council has the balance right, according to mayor John Davis.

Figures in the council’s annual report reveal sporting grounds and sport and recreation remains the most costly facilities for the council.

With little revenue coming from registration fees and casual bookings, each of the city’s 17,089 rate assessments contributed $234.48 and $42.66 to cover the loss caused by sport and recreation and sportsgrounds respectively.

The library was the most expensive cultural facility for ratepayers, with each assessment contributing $88.60, as less than 12 per cent of its running costs covered by income from fines and grants.

The Orange Aquatic Centre was subject to fierce debate before it was opened from ratepayers who did not want to subsidise the facility.

But the figures reveal almost 51 per cent of its running costs is covered by income from pool admission and capital works, with each rate assessment contributing $50.97 to cover the difference.

Cr Davis said ratepayers would always have to subsidise council services, but it was up to the council and the management to work out the split.

“The state government over the last few years has pushed towards user pays,” he said.

“Especially with sewer and water and you can understand that.”

Cr Davis acknowledged rising water and sewer usage rates was unpopular, but said councils risked missing out on assistance from other tiers of government if they were “not trying hard enough” when it came to covering costs from ratepayers.

“I realise like everyone else in the community that it is tough,” he said.

“[But] I think the management have got it pretty right.”

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