ORANGE City Council will take a hard look at its proposal for 100kms of mountain bike trails within the Mount Canobolas State Conservation area when it discusses a mini-budget in September.
Tough decisions may have to be made later in the year after council adopted it's 2022-23 operational plan and at Thursday night's council meeting with a September mini-budget in mind.
Council was under some pressure to push the budget through last night after a compacted six months of operation, forced by postponement of the local government elections to December 4.
The September mini-budget will allow an alignment with the 10-year Community Strategic Plan which was also adopted last night while major projects will also be revisited.
Among those projects are the controversial mountain bike plan, and upgrades at the Orange Aquatic Centre and Civic Theatre.
CEO David Waddell said those projects were unfunded but were part of council's forward planning.
"But we flag it in our four-year-plan that they are projects we want to work on," Mr Waddell told the meeting.
"There is no cash in the budget for the mountain bike project going forward
"It's in an assessment phase. We've done half a million dollars worth of environmental assessment, it's in a hold point.
"To go forward we need to bring it back to council, we have a document from the state called a SEARS document, which is an assessment document which outlines the steps you have to take to get to the exhibition phase. We will do that in the future."
In his report on the draft CSP and delivery and operation plan, Mr Waddell noted 34 residents took the opportunity to provide more detailed submissions, and 32 were against funding the mountain bike project.
Cr David Mallard said he had also noted the number of submission on the mountain bike trail project.
"I share the concerns about environment and cultural reasons to have significant reservations about this project. I also think in terms of the economics of it there are massive issues that we are going to need to discuss as a council.
"I note that the CEO has advised these are projects that the council might want to do in the future.
"This council hasn't had that conversation about whether we want [the mountain bike] project in to the future and I look forward to us starting to having that conversation."
As part of the rates discussion, Cr Frances Kinghorne, who ran for council Orange Ratepayers Group ticket, told the chamber Orange has the 15th highest residential rates in the state and the 17th highest business rates.
"But in my attempts to find out why that is, [council staff] have answered my questions," she said.
Cr Kinghorne brought to light that OCC spends 75 per cent more than similar sized councils on community services, education, housing and community amenities
"Which is pretty good, I think we should be pretty proud of that," Cr Kinghorne said.
Cr Kinghorne said Orange did spend less per kilometre on roads
"I was querying why we had 50 more staff than Bathurst which is a similar size council and it's been explained to me we have our own three childcare centres, occasional care, after-school care, we run our own pool, there are youth services and multiple social and community services and that explains why we have more staff.
"Our library and art gallery are open seven days a week and they run multiple education programs.
"We have more green space and major parks, have a higher level of service than some other councils."
Cr Kinghorne was also pointed out Orange offers an extra 10 per cent discount to pensioners on council rates on top of the mandatory 50 per cent, which equates to roughly $480,000 a year.
Cr Greenhalgh said she was hearted by some of the feedback used for the Community Strategic Plan with an online survey showing 75 per cent of respondents believed council should tackle the shortage of affordable and social housing.
Cr Steve Peterson brought the only motion of the night, asking that council staff modify certain grass Islands in Cook and Robertson Parks to allow easier access for wheelchairs or similar.
Cr Peterson explained Cook Park and Robertson Park were locations for community events such as Australia Day and Food Week.
'Frequently stalls will be setup on the grass islands surrounded by paths. There is a vertical concrete barrier of a few centimetres between the grass and footpaths. This is a barrier for prams, wheelchairs, four-wheel walkers or similar," he wrote.
"The Ageing and Access Community Committee would like to investigate possibilities to overcome this barrier. As a start we hypothesise a concrete triangular slope placed irregularly would work but happy for advice from staff."
Cr Tony Mileto supported the motion but asked how people could be made aware where the entries are.
In supporting the motion Cr David Mallard said there were other access issues at local parks for example the sunken garden at Cook Park and Park Guildry that should also be addressed.
The motion was carried unanimously.
Council also discussed two applications to the Small Donations and Grants Program, $2500 to Glenroi Heights Public School for swimwear and towels for students to borrow and $1500 for the Central West's Ten-for-Ten Leadership program to help cover costs of the program.
The draft Orange Region Destinations Management Plan, which will guide the long-term growth and sustainability of Orange, Cabonne and Blayney's visitor economy, will go on public exhibition for 28-days from June 29 after it was endorsed last night.
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