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Mr Nankivell warned more funds would need to be withdrawn from its emergency reserve, and non-urgent capital asset renewals would need to be delayed.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