PALMO PAY­ING PLENTY FOR MAR­CUS

NT News - - FRONT PAGE - LAU­REN ROBERTS and WILL ZWAR

PALMER­STON Coun­cil has over­spent its emer­gency oper­a­tion bud­get by more than $1 mil­lion as it strug­gles to clean up af­ter Cy­clone Mar­cus.

Coun­cil set aside $10,000 in its bud­get to clean up fallen trees af­ter wild weather events – but to date has forked out $1,090,198 to clean up the city.

In a re­port to be pre­sented to the coun­cil tonight, City of Palmer­ston fi­nance man­ager Shane Nankiv­ell said costs were ex­pected to in­crease “sig­nif­i­cantly” over the next few months as the coun­cil pro­cessed green waste and cleared parks.

Mr Nankiv­ell warned more funds would need to be with­drawn from its emer­gency re­serve, and non-ur­gent cap­i­tal as­set re­newals would need to be de­layed.

“Coun­cil will also make an ap­pli­ca­tion to re­cover the cost of the clean-up through the Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Re­lief and Re­cov­ery Ar­range­ment with the Com­mon­wealth,” he said.

“The ex­tent of any re­im­burse­ment is still un­known at this stage.”

Palmer­ston Coun­cil’s newly elected mem­bers will dis­cuss the city’s fi­nances at its first meet­ing tonight, led by Mayor Athina Pas­coe-Bell.

The coun­cil will ease fi­nan­cial pres­sures by tap­ping into its Dis­as­ter Re­cov­ery Re­serve of $500,000.

Ms Pas­coe-Bell was con­fi­dent tax­pay­ers wouldn’t feel the ef­fect of the over­spend.

“We should be able to get it back through the (Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Re­lief and Re­cov­ery Ar­range­ments) – we don’t ex­pect this im­pact will af­fect our ratepay­ers,” she said.

Ms Pas­coe-Bell wasn’t wor­ried about us­ing the coun­cil’s Dis­as­ter Re­cov­ery Re­serve, and saw no is­sue with the amount set aside for an emer­gency.

“It’s set at half a mil­lion dol­lars – that’s an ap­pro­pri­ate use of that fund,” she said.

“Whether we de­cide to in­crease that re­serve will be a ques­tion of what the com­mu­nity wants, bear­ing in mind if we do bump it up to $2 mil­lion, there will be that much money sit­ting there that can’t be used un­less there is a dis­as­ter.”

Dar­win City Coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Melissa Reiter said it had an in­sur­ance pol­icy that cov­ered dam­age and restora­tion from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, and had a re­lief fund twice the size of Palmer­ston’s.

“City of Dar­win main­tains an emer­gency re­serve of $1 mil­lion to en­able it to quickly re­spond to emer­gency events,” she said.

City of Dar­win is also en­ti­tled to claim from the NDRRA.

Trunks and branches that were left scat­tered around the Top End af­ter Cy­clone Mar­cus lie on an empty block of land in Palmer­ston wait­ing to be mulched

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