It’s better to be nice, says mayor

Greater Hume mayor Heather Wilton.
Greater Hume mayor Heather Wilton.

GREATER Hume mayor Heather Wilton is adopting a “sugar rather than stick” approach to dealings with member for Albury Greg Aplin.

Mr Aplin has come under fire from Albury mayor Kevin Mack and Corowa mayor Fred Longmire over grants allocated to the electorate in the NSW budget.

It included just $4.5 million in road funding to be spread across all councils in Mr Aplin’s seat.

Greater Hume has the largest road infrastructure pressures of any council in southern NSW with a recent NRMA report revealing a $84 million backlog.

Cr Wilton said her council wanted to keep working with Mr Aplin to secure cash for upgrades to Jingellic Road and another road project on the outskirts of Henty.

The Henty situation forces large trucks to take short cuts through residential areas to access a grain depot.

“We lobby our members all the time for funding for various things,” she said.

“Some we win, some we lose.

“We’ve got a couple of issues we are working away quietly with the local member to see if we can achieve some outcomes one way or the other — we are shovel ready, as they say.

“But you can often get more if you deal with honey rather than throwing rocks.”

Earlier this year, NSW Roads and Maritime Services agreed to chip in more than $800,000 to fix a major road in Holbrook damaged during construction of the Hume Freeway bypass.

But after more than two years of negotiations the deal was struck on the proviso the council stumped up $530,000.

“We got it pre-budget and yes it was a pain-staking process,” Cr Wilton said.

“But in the end we got $800,000 and were pretty happy given the very difficult times we are in.”

Cr Wilton confirmed roads would also take a hit with the loss of $1 million from the freeze on Federal Assistance Grants indexation.

“We understand where they are coming from,” she said.

“But they are making it pretty damn difficult to function as a council.”

Greater Hume is preparing for a special rate for three years from July 1 next year and will apply for an average $50 rise on top of the rate peg with $317,250 generated each year spent on road works.