COROWA Council’s ongoing struggle to attract federal government funding for its saleyards upgrade has intensified with agents resisting a fee increase which came into play on July 1.
The council will write to the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his deputy Warren Truss with an urgent request to honour commitments made by the previous government in relation to Regional Development Australia funding in which Corowa tried to secure $1.3 million for its saleyards.
But closer to home the council is at loggerheads with some agents about a fee increase it believes was agreed to by all stakeholders in 2011.
Cr Gail Law left no one in doubt about her feelings.
“I would be all for closing the saleyards until they are paid,” Cr Law said.
The council’s 2013-14 budget ticked off a 30 per cent increase in yarding fees and agents fees doubling to 33 cents per head of sheep sold.
Increases were made to help bankroll the $2.7 million saleyards redevelopment with Corowa the major sheep-selling centre between Wagga and Bendigo after the closure of the Yarrawonga yards.
Corowa mayor and saleyards consultative committee chairman Fred Longmire said council’s position was clear.
“Council is committed to the upgrade and declared its hand by putting up $1.4 million,” he said.
“It’s always been subject to the federal government funding.
“The fee structure was agreed to back in 2011 otherwise we wouldn’t have put our heads on the chopping block.”
The fees issue was raised at the most recent consultative committee meeting last month with agents being encouraged to negotiate alternatives for payment of outstanding fees.
At the same meeting two agents, Peter Ellis and Richard Wynne, indicated they intended to resign from the committee.
Corowa Associated Agents president Roy Monte declined to comment yesterday.
The federal funding for the saleyards upgrade is expected to remain in limbo until 2015, at least judging by comments made this week by Mr Truss, who is also the minister for infrastructure and regional development.
He said the incoming government would firstly honour its own election promises from a newly created program called National Stronger Regions Fund which replaces Labor’s regional funding pool.