‘Shepp-centric’ budget concerns
A long-serving former Greater Shepparton City councillor has questioned the level of attention the 2017-18 draft budget pays to towns outside Shepparton.
Former Tatura-based councillor Kevin ‘Gunna’ Ryan believed the past few council budgets had been ‘‘a little bit Shepp-centric’’.
While not critical of councillors specifically, he suggested future make-ups of the council needed increased rural representation.
Mr Ryan acknowledged specific projects funded outside of Shepparton and the significance of major projects in the city’s central business district, but believed rates could be more fairly distributed across the local government area.
‘‘The most critical thing for a councillor is to make sure that rate money is spent evenly right across the municipality,’’ he said. ‘‘I believe the last three budgets have not addressed that.’’
Mr Ryan said rural towns and the Shepparton central business district relied equally on one another, each deserving a fair share, not amounts which fell into insignificance.
‘‘I think it’s tipped a little too far in Shepp’s favour,’’ he said.
‘‘Not to criticise the projects that are currently . . . being done in Shepparton.
‘‘But you’ve got to make sure you bring along the rural sector to make it a very livable municipality and also give confidence to smaller towns.’’
Mr Ryan questioned the attention paid to rural roads and a reactive, not proactive approach to road maintenance being adopted.
He also argued rural recreation reserves — often the hub of the town — deserved a more even share.
Mr Ryan described funding for the Tatura pool base repainting being listed in a capital budget snapshot as ‘‘a little bit cheeky’’, arguing it constituted maintenance.
He said the Tatura community had long awaited much-needed maintenance to Tatura Park.
Mr Ryan said City of Greater Shepparton covered an area of 2422 sq km, not just the Shepparton CBD, and the council had to be seen to be treating everyone equally.
The former deputy mayor and Rodney Shire president, who did not stand for re-election last year after decades representing the region, was not critical of the work of the current group of councillors. But he hoped in the future for more rural-based community members to be elected.
‘‘It’s extremely important that two of the nine . . . come from the rural sector,’’ he said.
Greater Shepparton City Council said it would not comment on items awaiting a council meeting.
The budget is set to be endorsed this week.