Council’s growing by 40 people per year

By Riverine Herald

THE Murray River Council area is growing.

And most of that growth is right here in Moama.

In council’s recently released long-term financial plan, the population is forecast to swell 0.4 per cent a year.

‘‘That’s 40 people a year — but it’s important to remember that’s taking in the whole council area,’’ general manager Des Bilske said.

‘‘Some areas are static or even decreasing. Others, like Moama, are increasing.

‘‘And we believe 0.4 per cent is an underestimate.’’

Mayor Chris Bilkey said the purchase of land in Moama was a solid indicator of immediate population growth.

‘‘The rate of land development has been quite rapid,’’ he said.

‘‘Plus forecasted increases in businesses could, in the long term, lead to population growth. It’s a real multiplier effect when you bring jobs into a town.’’

While he would not reveal details, Cr Bilkey said there had been a surge in business interest in Moama.

‘‘We’re getting a lot more enquiries,’’ he said.

‘‘And not just small businesses, but also ones that will generate significant jobs. And if even one in four of these major business propositions were realised, we would see significant growth in the area.’’

Cr Bilkey said council aimed to walk along business owners to make the process of setting up shop in Moama as smooth as possible.

‘‘We’re always somewhat in competition with neighbouring councils for business opportunities,’’ he said.

‘‘We need to be nimble and adapt to attract new businesses.

‘‘We also need to listen carefully to what business owners are looking for and move heaven and earth to accommodate their particular needs.’’

As long as they stick to the rulebook, Mr Bilske added.

‘‘Our major function is to ensure people’s developments comply with the requirements,’’ he said.

‘‘You can’t throw out the rulebook. But we will be a partner walking alongside them, showing them the rules and helping them to get over the hurdles in their way.’’