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$10m is for new council

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August 02, 2017

Murrumbidgee Council has deferred spending its $10 million in infrastructure funding until a newly elected council is in place.

The decision to hold off spending the combined Stronger Community Major Projects and Stronger Country Communities allocations ‘‘has its roots in democracy’’, according to council general manager Craig Moffitt.

He says decisions on where it will be best spent should be up to the community and their elected representatives.

Mr Moffitt said while council has prepared a priority list of projects which would be eligible under both funding streams, the final decisions would be made by the new councillors after the September 9 election.

He also confirmed community consultation would be undertaken to gauge the needs and wants of residents.

‘‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we don’t want to get it wrong,’’ he said.

‘‘The main reason for deferring allocating the money is that we wanted the new council to sign off on our infrastructure programs.

‘‘If we were to allocate the funding early and they were not fully supported by the community, we would have issues.

‘‘So rather than an administrator making the funding decisions we have decided it will be ratified by the new council.

‘‘We wanted to make sure the projects submitted were about what the community really wants.

‘‘We have some projects we know may not have the full support of communities, and we did not want to push ahead with those if there are others that the community may feel are more important.’’

The new council received $10 million in infrastructure funding from the NSW Government after the merger of the former Jerilderie and Murrumbidgee shire councils in May last year.

More than $1.5 million has already been spent on 57 projects under the Stronger Communities Community Grants Program, designed for projects valued under $50,000.

Last month, council also received notification it would receive more than $1.5 million under the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities program, which is part of its Regional Growth Fund.

Mr Moffitt said to assist the new council in its decisions on the funding, and in leading the council over the next four years, council staff will develop a priority projects register.

‘‘Council has been working on a document to assist acquisition of state government Stronger Communities and Major Projects funding.

‘‘This has included community consultation, agreeing on priorities and preliminary work such as indicative estimates of cost.

‘‘This work could form the detail of a priority projects register as an ongoing initiative to track progress, inform decision-making and maximise funding opportunities that are endorsed as priorities for the benefit of the Murrumbidgee community.’’

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