MAYOR ASKS: WHERE’S OUR MISS­ING MIL­LION?

Dubbo Photo News - - Front Page - By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FO­LEY

DUBBO Re­gional Coun­cil mayor Ben Shields is cur­rently in talks with Fed­eral Mem­ber for Parkes Mark Coul­ton over what the mayor be­lieves is a $1 mil­lion short­age in the distri­bu­tion of the Gov­ern­ment’s $1.8 bil­lion drought pack­age.

“The re­al­ity is if Dubbo didn’t merge with Welling­ton back in 2016, the peo­ple of Dubbo and Welling­ton would have got $2 mil­lion,” he said at the or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing on Mon­day, Novem­ber 26.

“Ef­fec­tively Dubbo, we have a miss­ing mil­lion as a re­sult of the merger, which is quite dis­ap­point­ing,” he said.

“Our 52,000 peo­ple is miss­ing a mil­lion dol­lars for no other rea­son; that we merged. That be­ing the case, I cer­tainly make a plea to the Min­is­ter in charge, and maybe to the state gov­ern­ment who did this; please look at Dubbo’s sit­u­a­tion. None of this Coun­cil put us in the sit­u­a­tion of the merger, and I think we should get that ex­tra pay­ment.

“An­other anom­aly by sim­ply giv­ing $1 mil­lion to each and ev­ery coun­cil (is) you’ve got Dubbo with 52,000 peo­ple and next door you’ve got a town like Gil­gan­dra with just on 4600 peo­ple. Good on them, they got a mil­lion dol­lars, but why would you give a mil­lion dol­lars to Gil­gan­dra with 4600 peo­ple, or Nar­romine with 4000 peo­ple, and Dubbo with 52,000 just get $1 mil­lion as well?

“I’m not too sure they’ve got their method­ol­ogy right when it comes to how they’ve given out these funds. I cer­tainly don’t want to crit­i­cise the drought fund­ing plan. Yes, money cer­tainly needed to flow in an emer­gency fash­ion from Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to coun­cils, no doubt about that.

“If it wasn’t for peo­ple like Mark Coul­ton and es­pe­cially An­drew Gee, who is a good bloke, and who peo­ple do like, we wouldn’t have got that money. We also need to look at the equal­ity of coun­cils that have merg­ers.

“Only a few coun­cils in NSW have merg­ers and I don’t think we should be pun­ished by hav­ing a miss­ing mil­lion dol­lars out there. (We should) go on pub­lic record that it is not fair and I think we should have a change.

“I have spo­ken to our fed­eral mem­ber Mark Coul­ton about it and he says he’ll be very happy and more than pleased to take it up and go into bat for us in Canberra, like he usu­ally does. We have a very en­er­getic fed­eral mem­ber for the seat of Parkes, here. He says he will take the is­sue for us, but it should be out there in the pub­lic that we’re miss­ing $1 mil­lion be­cause of the amal­ga­ma­tion,” he said.

The drought pack­age pro­vides 81 coun­cils up to $1 mil­lion each to sup­port ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties through­out the drought to fund lo­cal projects which will pro­vide lo­cal em­ploy­ment, en­cour­age spend­ing and sup­port drought-re­lief ac­tiv­i­ties.

The projects that Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil will seek fund­ing to the to­tal of $1 mil­lion for in­clude $245,000 for an au­to­mated pub­lic toi­let/ac­ces­si­ble toi­let for the Dubbo CBD, $560,000 for a wa­ter sup­ply for Stu­art Town, and $195,000 for shade sails at the Dubbo Re­gional Live­stock mar­kets.

“Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil has been able to spend over half a mil­lion dol­lars now in bring­ing fur­ther wa­ter se­cu­rity to the vil­lage at Stu­art Town, that has been cry­ing out for a long time for wa­ter se­cu­rity par­tic­u­larly around Boehme’s Hall, their recre­ational park, and will also al­low for non-potable wa­ter to be used for the vil­lage peo­ple as well, by drilling bores as well as the large rain wa­ter tanks in that area,” Cr Shields said.

New toi­lets would be in­stalled at Church Street to im­prove con­ve­nience for shop­pers in the CBD area.

“That has been com­plained about for­ever and day, ever since I have been on coun­cil since last cen­tury, that there are not ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties on Mac­quarie Street. That will fur­ther en­hance the des­ti­na­tion and growth of Mac­quarie Street,” he said.

Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil mayor Ben Shields

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