Liverpool Councils’ “Fake Surplus” Budget.

Liverpool City Council approves “Fake Surplus” Budget.

It’s not a surplus unless $14m worth of income producing assets are sold, which raises these questions.

  • How will Council meet the new Civic Place repayments when its funding sources are all sold?
  • Will Council need to increase rates, or apply a Special Rate Variation to source the annual $10m or more repayments needed?
  • Several Public Forum speakers including well-known Accountants criticised Council for its intention to sell income producing assets, and I fully agree.
  • As Accountants have stated, it is bad practice to sell major income producing funding sources, especially when they were the prime reason for obtaining the loans to build Civic Place and repay those loans.
  • Leasing the previous Administration Centre building at 33 Moore Street provides the long-term income source to pay the bulk of the repayments needed for Civic Place for the next 20 years. That income is assured by leasing the building to current long-term tenants such as Universities.
  • Leasing commercial space within Civic Place, currently around 80%, will also contribute to Councils income, overall, that will reduce the need to substantially increase rates.
  • It doesn’t make sense to sell income producing assets needed to pay for newly created assets.
  • Overall, Council will have those assets producing an income that will be used for the benefits of all ratepayers. It is a long-term benefit rather than a short-term gain and long-term loss.
  • It is also doubtful that number 3 Hoxton Park Road can be sold due to its impact on the $42m Brickmakers Creek Project and the Woodward Park Master-plan. That land was specifically re-purchased to fit in with the Master-plan and the future recreational needs of Liverpool. Sadly, that Master-plan has not been mentioned in this term of Council, could it be that it doesn’t fit the Mayors’ long overdue 400 day plan and plans for Liverpool?
  • Around $300k was spent in developing the Woodward Park Master-plan which is of significant importance to the future recreational needs of Liverpool. Those plans together with public exhibitions and feedback provided positive outcomes, where is that at? Is this another casualty of Mayor Mannouns’ vision for Liverpool?
  • That proposed sale also creates the problem of where will the State Emergency Services (SES) go? Council has a responsibility to support the SES.
  • Council spent around $2m upgrading the centre. If sold, where will they go and at what cost? These are issues that were not considered or discussed at any of several Budget Briefing sessions.
  • Neither was the impact of $2.5m worth of last-minute Budget additions by the Mayor. The impact of these “electioneering” inclusions, which mainly benefit Austral residents and while needed, should have been discussed in Budget sessions amongst equally important priorities, sadly, they were not.
  • Budget sessions were debated and difficult decisions made to reduce an initial deficit of around -$30m to an eventual level of around -$8m and now increased to more than -$10m, primarily as an electioneering Budget with a “Fake Surplus” of around $2m, is not in the best interests of the community.
  • It’s another example of dictatorial decision making without the majority of Councillor input.
  • In light of the above issues I could not support the Budget as presented and voted against it.
  • The Budget was passed 6-3  Cllrs Green, Harle and Karnib voted against the Budget with Cllr Kaliyanda abstaining.

Cllr Peter Harle JP
Councillor since 2008

Councillor Peter Harle JP
27th June 2024

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