Mayoral Column 23 June 2014

Published on 23 June 2014

CAPTION for supplied picture: Mayors from the Murray River Group of Councils presenting a united front in Canberra were (back row, from left) Cr Gavan Holt (Loddon), Cr Peter Mansfield (Moira), Cr Ian Maddison (Campaspe) and Cr Glenn Milne (Mildura).  In front are Cr Neville Goulding (Gannawarra) and Cr Les McPhee (Swan Hill).

Canberra talks bring a boost

The Commonwealth Government is single-minded in its determination to bring the Budget back to surplus and no amount of pleading or protest will change that.

This was one of the clear messages to emerge from last week’s National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra, an annual event which brings together the Mayors and CEOs of a majority of the 560-plus local government authorities in Australia.

Loddon Shire was represented by Crs Curnow, Beattie and myself, along with Council CEO John McLinden.

The conference comprised three days of speeches, panel discussions, workshops and debates, interspersed by functions and dinners which offered the opportunity of building relationships with our local government counterparts elsewhere.

At an occasion such as this, I’m struck by the vastness and rich diversity of our nation, as councils of all sizes come together to share their wide-ranging issues and viewpoints.

There were three elements to the event I think are worth highlighting.

During the debates and voting on motions raised by delegates, it was clear the areas of most concern were the planned caps on Commonwealth Financial Assistance Grants for three from 2014/2015, Constitutional recognition of local government and the long-term future of Roads to Recovery funding.

Secondly, we listened to excellent presentations from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese, Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne and Director of the Australian War memorial Brendan Nelson.

Lastly, as part of the Murray River Group of Councils, we met separately with Mr Truss, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair Craig Knowles.

Two further matters sparking discussion at the conference were the High Court challenge to the Constitutional legality of federal funding of local government programs and the government’s stated intention to release a White Paper later this year on reforming the federal system.

The event certainly gave us plenty to think about here in Loddon. We may have to tighten our belts, but the general air of positivity we experienced in Canberra was an echo of our own attitude towards the issues we now face.

Name your sports star

The deadline for nominations for Loddon Shire’s first-ever Sports Awards is just days away.

The gala presentation evening will be held on Wednesday 20 August at Pyramid Hill, in the style of last year’s Loddon Powercor Excellence Awards.

There will be 11 prizes to be handed out on the night, honouring our top team, administrator, coach, club or organisation, two sportspersons (male and female), two junior sportspersons (under 18), two master sportspersons (over 50) and the “Ultimate Sportsperson” to be chosen out of the six individual winners.

People can enter themselves or be nominated.  Individual categories will cover a nominee’s achievements over the previous 18 months (that is, 1 November 2012 to 30 April 2014), while a club or organisation’s track record can embrace the decade ending 31 December 2013.

Guest speaker at the gala will be sportsman, media commentator and motivational speaker Max Walker.

Max played 85 senior VFL games with the Melbourne Football Club while, at the same time, pursuing his cricketing career.

A stint playing 70 Sheffield Shield matches for Victoria was rewarded with national selection in 1972/73, sharing the Australian dressing room with such legends of the game as Ian and Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee, Rodney Marsh, Jeff Thomson and Doug Walters.

Max was an early signature to Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket revolution, later becoming the face and voice of multi-million dollar marketing campaigns and enjoying 16 years as host of the Nine Network’s Wide World of Sports programs.

The deadline for nominations is next Thursday, 26 June. For information on how to nominate, or to download a form, go to www.loddon.vic.gov.au

Park managers’ new home

Today is a red-letter day for Wedderburn caravan park managers Andrew Berthelsen and Gaye Washington – it’s when they officially receive the keys to their new home.

A $120,000 Council project has delivered a nine-square, two-bedroom timber home adjacent to the current residence.

Project manager Adrian Lowrey said the job had been in Council’s capital works program for a year or so.

“The present residence there was built in the 1970s and really needed replacing – it’s well past its use-by date,” Adrian said.

“The new house will provide more comfortable, modern living for the managers.”

Gaye said she and Andrew would be delighted to move into their new house.

“It will be nice to move in to the new residence,” she said.

“It’s another step forward for the park, which we’ve built up quite strongly over the two-and-a-half years we’ve been here.

“We now have touring clubs booking in well in advance, there are new barbecues and a pool table – it all helps.”

New courts in action

There was certainly a great feeling of celebration at Pyramid Hill just over a week ago, when Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation Damian Drum arrived to officially open Mitchell Park’s new netball courts.

The ceremony marked the end of a $120,680 project to upgrade the netball facilities, made possible by funding of $75,000 from the state government’s Community Facility Funding Program, a Council contribution of $26,200 and $15,000 from the Pyramid Hill Netball Club, backed up by a further $4,480 worth of volunteer labour.

Cr Cheryl McKinnon was on hand to congratulate the club, along with Council’s Director Operations, Ian McLauchlan.

The event has virtually closed the book on Loddon Shire’s eight-year effort to upgrade the municipality’s netball facilities – a $1.4 million improvement program which has resulted in the construction or refurbishment of 17 courts around the Shire.
 
Now finished and in use are one in Wedderburn and dual courts in Bridgewater, Inglewood, Boort, Pyramid Hill, Newbridge, Mitiamo, Calivil and Serpentine.
 
The last upgrade in Council’s mind is for Wedderburn’s Donaldson Park, where a second court is currently the subject of funding applications.

Your property’s value rethought

Ratepayers around Victoria will receive new valuations for their properties this year, after the tabling of the latest figures from the Valuer-General’s office.

These revaluations take place every two years and affect the rateable value of the properties under the jurisdiction of local councils.

In Loddon’s case, Council uses a contractor to undertake the work, but the Valuer-General has to certify that work as appropriate and must accept the proposed data as correct for every property in the Shire.

Changes in valuations are supported by sales evidence where there are enough sales, but, if not, valuers fall back on established parameters.

These latest valuations will be used as the basis for rating properties in the next two financial years. Loddon uses the capital improved valuation when levying rates and charges.

Overall, Loddon’s property valuation is increasing by 5.23% from 2012 to 2014.