Hume looks to housing plans to fill budget void

GREATER Hume Shire has started the ball rolling on two residential developments — at Holbrook and Walla.

The council will spend $10,000 seeking independent valuations on the council-owned properties that could lead to an expanded rate base.

Its economic development committee discussed projects in the north of the shire with a residential land developer.

The developer has done an initial assessment of costs but, before proceeding, the council is seeking independent advice from two registered valuers.

The council is also responding to the fallout from the recent federal government budget announcement indexation on the amount of local government grants which will be frozen.

Mayor Heather Wilton said the valuations would help the council decided whether developing the land was viable.

“We are getting valuations just to see what they are worth,” she said.

“We need to understand what the real costs will be and whether or not it is going to be a valuable exercise or not.

“They are parcels of land we own, but they need to be figured into any future development.”

Two follow-up discussions have been held with the developer with the most recent being early last month.

A report to last week’s council meeting highlighted the importance of transparency in any future deliberations.

“If, after receiving the valuations council is to proceed with discussions, then a clear process would need to be adopted that demonstrates that the council will achieve best value, transparency and accountability,” the report said.

“It would appear, following recent federal government budget announcements, that council funding from other tiers of government, federal and state, will be constrained in the foreseeable future.

“Therefore, all councils will need to examine carefully how they can grow revenue.

“Greater Hume Shire has significant growth potential in the southern part of the shire, but strategies need to be investigated to expand development potential in towns such as Holbrook, Walla, Culcairn and Henty to ensure the long-term sustainability of the shire.”