‘Shepp-cen­tric’ bud­get con­cerns

Shepparton News - - NEWS - By Thomas Moir

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.

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