Mayoral Column 5 May 2014

Published on 05 May 2014

Council’s $3.8 million spend

Loddon Shire Councillors have given the nod to a $3.8 million program of road, bridge, drainage and urban infrastructure improvements for the coming financial year.

Meeting in Serpentine late last month, Council agreed on an in-principle commitment to a busy year across nine key areas of activity under its annual infrastructure program. 

Director Operations Ian McLauchlan told the meeting the development and completion of the program would ensure Council appropriately maintained its capital assets within current financial constraints.

“Next year’s program continues Council’s focus on the progressive renewal and improvement of ageing or failed road-related infrastructure across the municipality,” Ian said.

“That sits alongside the delivery of strategic upgrade or improvement projects such as urban drainage initiatives and sealing of gravel roads in townships.

“Combined with the expected $4.7 million allocation for routine road maintenance activities as part of the pending 2014/15 budget, total investment next year in roads and road-related infrastructure is expected to top $8.5 million.”

Funding for the proposed capital renewal, upgrade and maintenance works is expected to come from $2.6 million of Council’s own source funds, backed up by the Federal Government’s Roads to Recovery program ($1.62m), Commonwealth Grants Commission ($3.25m) and the state government’s Country Roads and Bridges Program ($1m).

Among the projects listed are gravel re-sheets covering 25.7km of local roads, 20km of shoulder resheeting, six sealed local road renewal projects, two amenity improvement projects in Bridgewater, three township street improvements (kerb and channel or footpaths), four jobs on bridges and culverts and the resealing of up to 30.9km of Council roads.

Fee rises kept down

Council charges will go up for the coming financial year, but only by a minimal amount.

Meeting in Serpentine late last month, Councillors approved the Shire’s latest schedule of fees and charges to take effect in 2014/2015, which shows a general increase of 2.75% on the previous list.

That increase is the CPI adjustment for Melbourne as advised in the data supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the year ended December 2013.

That figure of 2.75% is what the ABS expects to see in 2014/2015.

Council has a say over some of its charges, but others are levied based on legislated changes.

These adjustments can be notified to Council at any time through the year via the Government Gazette or direct advice from Victorian government departments.

When that happens, the altered amounts will be incorporated into Council’s schedule.

Council fees and charges cover such areas as planning and building applications, caravan parks, rental properties, Food Act registrations, septic tanks, aged care services, animal registrations, swimming pool entry, road reinstatements and tourist services.

For any enquiries on Council’s fees and charges, please phone 5494 1200 or refer to the full schedule at www.loddon.vic.gov.au

New courts the latest win

An eight-year effort to upgrade Loddon Shire’s netball facilities is close to an end, with the recent completion of two courts at Pyramid Hill and plans under way for one last major project at Wedderburn.

The $1.4 million improvement program has resulted in the construction or refurbishment of 19 courts around the Shire.
 
Of that amount, Council has allocated $232,284, external funding has provided $769,723 and community contributions (both in cash and in-kind) $401,301.
 
Already finished and in use are four courts in Bridgewater, one in Wedderburn and dual courts in Inglewood, Boort, Pyramid Hill, Newbridge, Mitiamo, Calivil and Serpentine.
 
A second court at Wedderburn’s Donaldson Park is the subject of the latest funding applications.

The new facilities cover all competitions held in the North Central and Loddon Valley leagues.
 
The work got under way in earnest after 2008, when a Council audit of all its netball courts made a number of recommendations for safety improvements to comply with guidelines laid down by Netball Victoria.
 
New courts have been built, run-off areas extended, level playing surfaces achieved and obstructions removed.

At Pyramid Hill, work started last November and was completed in time for the opening of this year’s netball season.

The $120,680 project involved laying new concrete slabs and a plexi-pave surface, moving the coach’s box and court seating, installing new goal rings and marking the courts for both tennis and netball.

Funding for the job was provided by the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development ($75,000), Council ($26,200) and the local community ($19,480 in cash and in-kind).

Loddon ‘not to be missed’

“One of Victoria’s best-kept secrets” – that’s the way veteran travel writer Fred Wright describes Loddon Shire in the latest edition of Caravan and Motorhome On Tour magazine, which has just been released.

Fred and cameraman/producer John Haberfield visited Loddon last December at the invitation of Council’s Tourism Manager, Robyn Vella, to see the sights and film a 45-minute DVD.

It was the first time the publication had ever visited the Shire and the first time anything on this scale in terms of tourism promotion had been achieved.

Council’s Tourism Department drew up a suggested itinerary and local volunteers helped guide the pair around the municipality.

The result is an enthusiastic nine-page lead article in the April issue, plus the free DVD.

“You can’t put a value on publicity of this kind,” Robyn said.  “The majority of our visitors are 50-plus, the Baby Boomers, who are always looking for new places to explore.

“When people do come, they’re blown away – what we have to offer here is as good as any regional centre.”

Congratulations to our tourism staff and volunteers on achieving this marvellous promotion for the Shire.

Caravan and Motorhome On Tour, edition no. 201, is now on sale.

Tea, anyone?

Wedderburn Patchwork Group launched its annual exhibition of handmade tea cosies, quilts and knitted articles yesterday (4 May) at the Coach House Gallery.

All items are to be sold by silent auction, with proceeds donated to the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea fundraiser on Thursday 22 May.

The exhibition, organised by Loddon Arts, runs until 23 May.  For more details, phone Gwen on 5494 3691 or Hilary on 5494 3325 in the evenings.