'You are a disgrace, mayor': Outrage after Lismore meeting
ANIMAL activists slammed Lismore City Council for 'sanctioning animal cruelty' in response to a vote to uphold additional racing at the Lismore greyhound track.
"You are a disgrace, mayor, an absolute disgrace," one protester yelled.
Cries of 'shame' filled the gallery as dozens of disgruntled activists shuffled out of the chamber, their signs dragging along behind them after being held high earlier in anticipation of a different outcome.
The vote came despite councillors Darlene Cook and Eddie Lloyd's impassioned pleas to reverse the decision.
But the majority of councillors voted in favour of upholding the decision made for an additional 20 races annually at the December meeting last year.
Along with Cr Cook and Lloyd, councillors Elly Bird and Vanessa Ekins voted to reverse the motion of the ten councillors present. Councillor Adam Guise was absent.
The greyhound racing rescission motion was lost along with the three others put forward over the course of tonight's extraordinary council meeting.
Green light for Square expansion workshop
SIX of the ten councillors reaffirmed their stance to hold a workshop on the $90 million Lismore Square proposal.
Cr Lloyd said "the workshop ... is a big waste of staff time resources and ratepayers money" because the council voted in November against entering into a memorandum of understanding with Square owner, McConaghy Properties to expand the complex into Lismore Park.
Cr Ekins claimed there would be no benefit of revisiting the proposal.
"We aren't going to get any new information at a workshop," Cr Ekins said.
The workshop intends to assess the impact of a potential expansion on various aspects of the community, such as the CBD and how the funds could be used from the sale of public land.
It would also explore alternative options including expansion of the shopping centre not involving the sale of council held community land.
Special business levy to stay
BUSINESS ratepayers will chip in extra for a special levy to fund enhanced promotion of the city in a bid to boost the economy after the March floods last year.
A rescission motion to scrap the an application for a Business Special Rate Variation at a rate pegged level of $120,000 per annum over five years from on July 1 was lost, 7-3.
The existing levy expires on June 30, meaning funding for the Lismore Business Promotions Program would revert back to pre-2010 levels.
The new variation was proposed by the council's Lismore Business Panel after concerns were raised the old rate contributions wouldn't provide adequate funding to promote the flood-affected Lismore business community over the next five years.
Business rate consultant for the council, Stephen Nelson said the award-winning program offered a "series of regular calendar based regular promotions" that have proven beneficial.
But Councillor Greg Bennett said surveys by the council and the Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry provided a clear message of opposition toward the rate variation.
"It's pretty clear to me that the majority of business don't want to pay the special rate variation for a business promotion program," Cr Bennett said.
But Mr Nelson argued the surveys weren't a strong indicator of the sentiment throughout in the wider Lismore business community, which consists of 1094 business ratepayers.
He said the council online survey only attracted a mere 13 responses from nearly 4000 potential respondents.
Of the 13 that responded, nine were opposed to the rate variation. Of the 71 respondents of the chamber survey, 41 were in opposition.
Mayor Isaac Smith said that the contention within the business community was about high inner CBD rates not the levy for the promotion program.
"That's the real issue here. The inner CBD rate is too high and the only mechanism business has to reduce their inner city rate is to fight against (the program)," he said.
The special business rate variation was the most pressing of the four rescission motions with the application to be delivered to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal by February 12.
Ski jump to be explored
A SKI jump and regional sports centre in Lismore will be explored after a rescission motion to abandon the discussion was lost.
The council's strategic property project manager Lindsay Walker reassured councillors they weren't voting about building a ski jump.
He clarified that councillors were voting to engage with the Office of Sport, which would pay to explore the viability of the centre in Lismore.
"We are not locked into anything, this resolution said that we would explore the proposal with the Office of Sport," Mr Walker said.
He said questions raised by councillors about future maintenance costs and possible locations would form part of that investigation.
"There's been a lot of statements made here by councillors that I have to say are not consistent with where the Office of Sport thinks this is going."
"We've not signed anything that says this is going to be a deal."
Cr Bird said "refusing this opportunity that's presented itself to us would be a mistake".
"I absolutely recognise that a ski jump is contentious that it is an out of left field proposal," Cr Bird said.
"But I don't think like we should absolutely reject it out of hand, I think we just need to have a look at it, we need to look at what it is going to look like."
And the majority of councillors agreed voting 7-3 against the rescission motion.