Saleyards plan far from home and dry

The Wangaratta saleyards upgrade project is far from certain after administrators indicated they were looking at options.

The Wangaratta saleyards upgrade project is far from certain after administrators indicated they were looking at options.

WANGARATTA Council administrators are refusing to fully commit to a multimillion-dollar saleyards upgrade.

Chief administrator Ailsa Fox said yesterday the enthusiasm for the saleyards project held by the former council wasn’t totally shared by administrators even though the draft budget set aside $3.4 million for stage one improvements including roofing.

Mrs Fox said the imminent tabling of detailed designs and cost estimates would guide the council’s final approach.

Private investment, a co-operative operating model including producers and agents, and the impact of the new Northern Victoria Livestock Exchange at North Barnawartha, which will open next year, would all be investigated before the council agreed to the upgrade.

“We’ve still got a fair bit of water to go under the bridge,” Mrs Fox said.

“We are still awaiting the detailed designs.

“We are going to investigate some other options for funding.

“They might include seeking private investment or alternatively seeking a co-operative arrangement.

“We want to know what we are dealing with before we hold those conversations.”

The council’s draft budget, which includes $3.4 million for the saleyards project, was approved last night.

Mrs Fox said previous investigations carried out by the council had taken into account the impact of the $20 million yards at Barnawartha North.

“There is no denying it is not far up the road,” she said.

“It will be very interesting to see how the buyers’ support varies between the two.

“The economic study for Wangaratta Council didn’t really touch on Barnawartha.”

Palisade Investment Partners, recently confirmed they could build a sheep-selling centre at Barnawartha North, a move that would put pressure on Corowa’s planned saleyards upgrade.

Also last night, the administrators approved a 6 per cent rate rise equating to a $79 jump to $1175.10 for an average residential property.

Garbage and recycling fees rose $17 to $299.

Mrs Fox warned the bill for last year’s governance crisis, which resulted in the council being sacked and senior management being replaced, could exceed the estimated $2 million.

“It is heading over the $2 million mark and still accumulating,” she said.

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