The Grafton Regional Gallery is under review in the CVC’s budget planning.
The Grafton Regional Gallery is under review in the CVC’s budget planning. Adam Hourigan

Have your say before Grafton Art Gallery review in budget

GRAFTON Regional Art Gallery is one of a number of assets in the sights of planners as they prepare budgets and operating plans for the coming year.

At the first of the public consultations on the Clarence Valley Council's 2015-16 draft budget and operating plan in Maclean on Tuesday, the council's director - corporate Ashley Lindsay said there would be an "extensive review" of the gallery and a block of land next to it.

While this suggests the gallery could come under closer scrutiny, council staff say it is just one of the council assets, similar to the saleyards, facing reviews in the 2015-16 budget.

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Just what is in the review is worrying bodies close to the gallery, said Friends of Grafton Gallery (FOGG) president Heather Brown.

"The gallery has a block of land and a plan to extend the gallery on it," Ms Brown said.

"Whether it's those plans or the gallery more generally we don't know. It's the uncertainty of it all that's so worrying."

She said members of the Gallery Foundation would attend the meeting on Thursday to ask questions about its future.

"We were more worried when it said the review of the gallery was in the 2015-16 budget, while others they were talking about reviewing were in 2016 to 2018," Ms Brown said.

"That's created so much uncertainty in the minds of the FOGGs, foundation members and gallery volunteers."

Council will hold the second and final consultation meeting in the Grafton council chambers meeting room this afternoon.

While the meetings are primarily run to seek opinion on the budget and implementation of the operating plan for next year, the component dedicated to a proposed rates variation of 8% in 2016-17 attracted the most attention at Maclean.

Mr Lindsay said seeking the special rates variation had been brought forward because of the State Government's Fit for the Future campaign.

"The council meets only two of the seven benchmarks identified in Fit for the Future," he said.

He said while the council was close to meeting several of the benchmarks, it was struggling on sustainability.

"The independent review indicated we had to find about $12 million either in extra revenue or in cuts for services for us to be sustainable," he said.

He said the special rates review indicated it would raise an extra $12 million over five years.

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