News

Budget to get ball rolling for Moama’s expansion

By Riverine Herald

MURRAY River Council has announced its $40.284 million 2018-19 draft budget, including the first steps in an ambitious 10-year plan to expand Moama “beyond recognition”.

And council is still in the black – posting an operating surplus of $763,000 before capital projects.

This is the first budget MRC has delivered since the new council was elected in September last year.

It details a range of new key initiatives to be completed throughout the year.

And following the controversial amalgamation of Murray and Wakool shire councils, mayor Chris Bilkey said council had a strong base to work from.

“The budget is very solid because council is in a position where it has little or no doubt,” he said.

“It’s a strong position to make appropriate investments in infrastructure that ratepayers are looking for in basics like water, sewerage, drainage and footpaths, along with tourism infrastructure, recreation spaces and roads.

“We’re significantly fortunate to have received $15 million from the State Government following amalgamation to invest in community projects.

“We’ll see that used in major capital projects completed in the coming financial year or following financial year.

“The aim is to create a base from where we can continue to grow. We believe there is significant potential for growth not just in Moama, but right across the council area.”

Features of the draft budget include:

■ $26.074million for capital works expenditure on assets, including local roads, buildings, facilities, parks and open spaces;

■ $11.770million for roads, bridges, footpaths, stormwater and traffic;

■ $2.583million for culture and recreation;

■ $3.755million for water supply operation;

■ $2.822million for sewerage operation;

■ $2.13million for waste management services including operation of landfills; and

■ $1.186million for parks and playgrounds.

Ordinary rates will increase slightly by the rate peg limit of 2.3 per cent, while water, sewerage and waste management will increase by 2 per cent.

Council has also finalised the prioritisation of $9 million for major projects under the Stronger Communities Program Fund. Expenditure in 2018-19 on these projects includes:

■ $3.865 million to bring the facilities/amenities of the Moama Recreation Reserve to a ‘regional standard’;

■ $184,294 for the Moama Recreation Reserve Zone 4;

■ $466,000 for the Mathoura Football Netball Club Kitchen redevelopment;

■ $180,000 for improvements at Picnic Point; and

■ $400,988 for Murray River Council to facilitate active participation in sport.

“Moama Recreation Reserve is a big ticket item,” Cr Bilkey said.

“It’ll be fantastic when it’s done. We have some of the best sports fields in the Echuca-Moama region here, but the attached facilities are not quite up to standard.

“This development will elevate the reserve to become one of the district’s premiere sports venues.”

Money has also been allocated to the redesign of Meninya St, with plans to be finalised in line with the completion of the new bridge between Moama and Echuca.

“At this point, we’re not sure how Meninya St will look,” Cr Bilkey said.

“But it’ll have a more welcoming, user-friendly environment — rather than just being a road for through-traffic.

“When this plan is implemented will depend on the timeline for the bridge. But we’ll begin developing the master plan in the coming financial year.”

Council is also undertaking a review of the local environment plan across the council area, particularly the rapidly growing section along Perricoota Rd, Moama.

“And beyond that, farming land will be assessed to see what residential options could go there,” general manager Des Bilske said.

The new plan is expected to be ready for implementation in 18 months and will take into account Moama’s steady growth rate.

“If people come back in five to 10 years, they won’t recognise the place,” Mr Bilske said.

“Everyone used to think the golf club was so far out of town – soon it will be in the centre of town.”

The draft budget identifies ongoing efficiencies including a focus on developing new revenue sources and containing costs.

Rate revenue is council’s largest source of funding (40.78 per cent) with operating grants and contributions providing 35.94 per cent, user charges and fees 13.17 per cent and capital grants and contributions 5.58 per cent.

The draft documents are available for public comment for a period of 28 days and can be viewed online at murrayriver.nsw.gov.au

Following the exhibition period, a meeting of council will be held on June 26 to consider any submissions before formally adopting the budget.