Bud­get a ‘mixed bless­ing’ – Indigo Mayor

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE -

Indigo Shire Coun­cil has ap­plauded ex­tra fund­ing in the Vic­to­rian Bud­get for ru­ral roads but says the Bud­get falls short on fund­ing for re­gional ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly the Beech­worth Sec­ondary Col­lege.

The Mayor, Cr Jenny O’Con­nor, said ru­ral coun­cils al­ways strug­gled to keep up with the costs of build­ing and main­tain­ing roads.

“In Indigo we have about 1000km of unsealed roads that we have to main­tain and 500km of sealed roads that need at­ten­tion,” Cr O’Con­nor said.

“Our city coun­ter­parts do not have this is­sue and so we are very pleased to see in the Vic­to­rian bud­get $433 mil­lion for re­gional road restora­tion, in­clud­ing $100 mil­lion for The Fix­ing Coun­try Roads Fund to re­store lo­cal coun­try roads to good con­di­tion.

“Es­tab­lish­ing a new VicRoads di­vi­sion ded­i­cated to fix­ing coun­try roads — Re­gional Roads Vic­to­ria – is an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the unique needs of coun­try coun­cils look­ing af­ter coun­try roads.”

But Cr O’Con­nor said the Coun­cil could not un­der­stand the lack of fund­ing for the much-needed new school build­ings at the Beech­worth Sec­ondary Col­lege.

She said plans were drawn up two years ago for stage two of the build­ing pro­gram, which be­gan a decade ago.

“Por­ta­ble build­ings were put in place 10 years ago to make way for a three-stage build­ing pro­gram, which has stalled af­ter the first stage,” Cr O’Con­nor said.

“Ten years ago, there were plans to re­place what had been tem­po­rary build­ings put there 40 years ear­lier, but suc­ces­sive ap­peals to var­i­ous State Gov­ern­ments to move for­ward on the build­ing pro­gram have fallen on deaf ears – on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum,” she said.

“The need is great at the Beech­worth Col­lege. They have been de­liv­er­ing ed­u­ca­tion in sub-stan­dard fa­cil­i­ties for 10 years, af­ter a pro­gram was put in place, on pa­per, to re­place the tem­po­rary build­ings of 40 years ear­lier.

“It just does not make sense. This is an is­sue that needs im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion. Based on need, the funds for the new build­ings should be com­mit­ted now.”

Cr O’Con­nor said the Coun­cil would write to the Pre­mier and Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion supporting calls from the school and the broader com­mu­nity for the im­me­di­ate fund­ing of the next stages of the build­ing pro­gram.

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