Hornsby Shire Council’s budget for the coming financial year contains some good news for the community, with money allocated to major projects such as the redevelopment of Storey Park Community Facility ($4.6 million) and a new playground at Waitara Park ($2 million).
However, fewer residents will feel the benefits of the budget than usual, as the NSW Government’s removal of all areas of Hornsby Shire south of the M2 has turned Council’s $10 million surplus into a $2 million deficit.
“The boundary changes have left our council much smaller and financially weaker, which makes it increasingly difficult to deliver everything that our community deserves,” Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock said.
“The release of our budget should be a happy moment, allowing Council to trumpet all the projects and initiatives we are going to undertake for the community, but this year it is overshadowed by everything we cannot deliver.
“If the Government does not restore the status quo soon there will need to be a major rethink of our Shire’s entire future, which could mean a significant reduction in services to the community.
“Major long-term infrastructure projects are also at risk. As the situation currently stands we will not be able to complete the rehabilitation of Hornsby Quarry or develop the promised new sporting facilities in Westleigh.”
Hornsby Shire Council has always objected against losing the areas south of the M2, a move that was linked to the Government’s failed attempt to amalgamate Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai councils.
Hornsby’s leaders have been lobbying hard for the return of the area, which has been part of Hornsby Shire since its creation more than a century ago.
“Now Parramatta is trying to wrestle even more territory off us, with their bid to add North Epping to their growing empire,” Mayor Ruddock said.
“The NSW Government has promised that our community will be no worse off than it was before the border change, a promise that must be kept.
“The time for action from the Government is fast approaching.”