Mayoral Column 2 June 2014

Published on 02 June 2014

CAPTION FOR PICTURE: Loddon Shire’s newest citizen, Raman Sharma, of Bridgewater, is congratulated by his wife, Divya, and Mayor Cr Gavan Holt after the ceremony at Serpentine last week.

Ministerial meetings

Last Thursday in Melbourne I attended a number of meetings with state government Ministers and Mayors from our region.  This was another opportunity for me to continue to put issues and funding proposals for our region and for Loddon Shire before the government.

I put to Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, our priorities under the Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program and stressed to him the importance to Loddon Shire of the Local Government Infrastructure Program.  This program helps us to continue to deliver the outstanding list of community infrastructure projects that have been built in Loddon Shire over recent years.  I also thanked him for the $1 million annual Local Roads and Bridges funding that each rural council receives.

I put to Roads Minister, Terry Mulder, that the absolute weakest link in the Calder Highway from Loddon Shire’s point of view is the 19 kilometres of the Calder Alternate route.  Users of this road will be pleased to know the $86 million Calder Highway interchange proposal at Ravenswood has been funded.

We discussed various water issues with Minister Walsh including our submission to the Murray Darling Basin Authority when we visit Canberra in mid-June for the Australian Local Government Association conference.

This was a very productive day in the city.

Have your say on roads

Council has taken a searching look at how it manages the roads under its jurisdiction and has come up with some proposed changes to improve its service to residents.

Councillors discussed the matter at their meeting in Serpentine last week and resolved to put the Shire’s revised Road Management Plan out for public comment in the near future.

The plan was produced following several sessions with Infrastructure and Works department officers and a public workshop in March last year

Infrastructure Manager Terry Watson said operational experience had also played a role in formulating the proposed adjustments.

“Council’s Road Management Plan is concerned not only with roads, but also our footpaths and bridges,” Terry said.

“The plan basically covers how we inspect, repair and maintain these assets.

“In this latest, simplified revision, we’ve added inspections of railway level crossings and minor gravel roads, new standards for bridge and railway crossing defects and specified response times for low-risk defects.

“The plan also formally introduces Council’s latest road grading program, proposes improved response times for hazards and tree trimming and inserts a new clause dealing with exceptional circumstances.

“The next step will be advertisements in local press and the Victorian Government Gazette inviting public comment for a period of 30 days.

“Submissions must be in writing and copies of the draft revised Road Management Plan will be displayed at post offices, Council offices and on Council’s website.”

Fire levy change

The Victorian Fire Services Property Levy is coming down as from the new financial year, but the fact that 2014/2015 is a revaluation year means the amounts due from ratepayers remain uncertain.

The government has decreed that residential land (including vacant blocks) will incur a fixed fee of $102, plus a variable charge of 10.9 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

That latter figure represents a 5.22% fall from this current year’s charge of 11.5 cents.

The $50 concession for eligible pensioners and veterans will continue.

Commercial premises have been promised a 19.41% cut in the variable rate, farmers 21.15% and industry 22.75%.

The levy funds services provided by the CFA and Metropolitan Fire Brigade, including personnel, training, infrastructure and equipment.

Councils are required to collect it on behalf of the government by incorporating it into their rates notices.

Landowners receiving their 2014/2015 rates notices in August will see their charges laid out, as well as the new valuations on their properties.

Dinner’s on us

Council is hosting a “Volunteers’ Dinner” in Wedderburn on Wednesday 18 June to brief Visitor Information Centre helpers on the latest developments in Loddon Shire tourism.

Current volunteers will receive an invitation, but any others interested in getting involved at the Loddon Visitor Information Centre are welcome to attend.

Please let the Visitor Information Centre know by 11 June to reserve your place by contacting 5494 1257 or loddonvisitorinformation@loddon.vic.gov.au.

Our new citizen

Raman Sharma, of Bridgewater, was awarded Australian citizenship last week during a special ceremony held at the Serpentine Council Chambers.

Raman arrived in Australia from India in 2007 as a student of hospitality and management.
 
After graduation, he worked in that field in Melbourne before receiving a job offer from the Bridgewater Roadhouse in 2011. New wife Divya joined him there earlier this year.

Congratulations again, Raman, on your citizenship milestone – we wish you both all the best for your future life and work here.

Exhibition a first

A unique exhibition opening in Boort next Friday will bring together sharply contrasting displays from two local identities.

“War and Peace” runs from 6-14 June at Boort Memorial Hall in Godfrey St, showcasing a series of emotive photographs taken on the front line of the Vietnam War by Paul Haw and the first-ever public display of Margaret Allison’s 40-year doll collection dating back to around 1860.

Special guest on opening night will be Australian music icon and Vietnam veteran Normie Rowe.

For more information and opening night tickets, phone 0402 795 322 or email tourism.boort@gmail.com

Entry costs $30 ($25 concession) for Friday night, then $12 ($6 concession) for the following eight days of the exhibition.

Put the bins out

Council wishes to advise residents that kerbside waste and recycling collections over this coming long weekend will run as normal.