Myrtleford Times

Big budget spend...

..but Myrtleford not a prime focus of $14m capital works program

- BY NATHAN DE VRIES ndevries@ nemedia.com.au

A RECORD $14 million capital works program will underpin major projects across many parts of the Alpine Shire, but Myrtleford township won’t be a focus.

Under council’s draft 2021/22 budget, the record capital spend has a focus on whole-shire projects and infrastruc­ture developmen­t.

Mayor John Forsyth said there were many projects in the pipeline that will benefit Myrtleford down the road, after the town benefitted from funding in recent years.

“Having a look through the budget a lot of the stuff, because we’ve managed to get fantastic government grant funding this year, is going into a lot of infrastruc­ture and not necessaril­y town stuff,” he said.

“Just going back a bit, the basketball stadium in Myrtleford was a $2 million job, plus the Alpine Better Places, all the upgrades right down the centre of Myrtleford, that was a big exercise.

“At a quick glance it looks like Myrtleford might not be getting there but in the background we’ve got the developmen­t of the splash park which is gaining momentum; it won’t be in the pipeline for next year but it’s gaining momentum.

“Across the board I believe we’re still doing all right.”

Cr Forsyth said there is a lot of behind the scenes planning that goes into projects before the public even hears about them.

“In order to get funding for these things, what we’ve been endeavouri­ng to do, and we’ve been talking to the state and federal about this, is to actually access money in order to get the scope done for these projects so that you can then go out and apply for these grant applicatio­ns when they come due,” he said.

“If you don’t have something that’s shovel-ready it’s very difficult to get those funds.

“So what we’re hoping to be able to do over the next 12 months in the background while the shire is still trying to get all of those things done, is trying to also organise projects that are in the pipeline to get them to a shovel-ready point.”

A RECORD $14 million capital works program is a key feature of the Alpine Shire Council draft 2021/22 budget.

The document is now available for public feedback and council is calling on the community to share their views.

Chief executive officer Charlie Bird said the 2021/22 draft budget includes projects and initiative­s that will help the community and businesses transition to more prosperous times.

“We know our businesses and communitie­s have had a particular­ly difficult year; recovering from bushfires and the ongoing economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“This draft budget balances long term financial sustainabi­lity and prioritise­d delivery against community needs.

“This balance allows us to focus on essential community services and initiative­s and complete a strong capital works program.”

The budget proposes a rate increase of 1.5 per cent for 2021/22, compared with last year’s increase of 2.0 per cent, and is in line with the State Government’s Fair Go Rates System, which caps Victorian council rate increases in line with inflation.

In 2021/22, council is planning to undertake the largest capital works program in its history totalling $14m, supported by significan­t government grant funding making up $8m of that spend.

“We have a number of key projects due for completion next financial year, including the Mount Beauty Airport Upgrade ($3m), Dinner Plain Activation Phase 1 ($1.2m) and the Great Valley Trail ($1.7m),” Mr Bird said.

“The Dargo High Plains Road Renewal ($1.2m), Alpine View Children’s Centre Expansion ($1m) and Tawonga Caravan Park Upgrade ($1.75m) are also vital projects, delivering safety, tourism and community outcomes.”

The draft budget is available on council’s website and in hard copy at council’s Bright office and Myrtleford and Mount Beauty libraries.

“We urge anyone with an interest in the future of the Alpine Shire to have their say on the draft budget,” Mr Bird said.

“We look forward to supporting our community in its ability to thrive in the years ahead, and as always, welcome your suggestion­s as to how we can make our townships even better places to live and to visit.”

To see the draft budget visit www.alpineshir­e.vic.gov.au/ council/community-consultati­on/exhibition.

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