Wangaratta chiefs take look at saleyards

WANGARATTA Council administrators have inspected the site of the $20 million privately-owned saleyards under construction at North Barnawartha.

The tour by administrators Ailsa Fox, Irene Grant and Rodney Roscholler and council chief executive Brendan McGrath and infrastructure director Alan Clark was held this week.

It follows another round of concerns raised about the status of the Wangaratta saleyards upgrade.

The Wangaratta delegation also toured nearby Logic following an invitation extended to them by Wodonga mayor Rod Wangman in March.

“All we did was have a look at the construction site,” Mrs Fox said.

“It was interesting to go there, but we are continuing to do our due diligence.”

Administrators are refusing to fully commit to the Wangaratta saleyards upgrade, with the impact of the North Barnawartha complex when opened early next year among their considerations.

Corowa Council this week agreed to a scaled-back redevelopment of its saleyards due to the inability to secure federal funding and the prospect of the replacement Wodonga yards also hosting sheep sales.

The former Wangaratta Council unanimously agreed to the saleyards upgrade before its dismissal last September.

Mrs Fox said administrators had a meeting arranged with the recently formed Friends of the Wangaratta Saleyards lobby group next week.

“We’ve certainly had some questions asked about the saleyards,” she said.

“We’re also getting some commentary back from the community to make sure we take a very responsible view of the future of the saleyards in view of the finances of the city.

“We’re balancing all those things up.

“The motion has many parts to it and the first one is about funding.”

The council’s draft budget includes $3.4 million for the saleyards project and administrators faced increased pressure from producers and agents to make a start at budget forums held this week.

Mrs Fox said an early estimate on the impact of the freeze on indexation of federal assistance grants outlined in the budget would rob Wangaratta Council of $90,000 next financial year.