THE marketing budget of Wodonga Council is due to climb above $1 million with the jump fuelled by a $200,000 consultancy to tell the city’s story.
The city’s draft spending plan released this week proposes $1.013 milllion is outlaid on marketing in 2018-19, compared to $844,456 in the current year.
When spending categories are compared, consultancy has the most marked change – from $21,500 in 2017-18 to $200,000 in 2018-19.
The budget papers record their variation as due to “The Wodonga Story $200k”.
Asked by The Border Mail for an explanation of what the project involves, the council offered a broad synopsis.
“The $200k in the marketing budget for telling the Wodonga story is about campaigns and tools to tell our history – indigenous, cultural and the rail influence – and showcase and promote Wodonga to wider visitor and business audiences on a national scale.”
The city could not elaborate, but the project has gone before councillors and is not believed to be staff-driven.
Wodonga Ratepayers’ Association president Ian Deegan is concerned.
“I think it’s got to be looked at very carefully,” he said.
“There’s a show on TV called Pie in the Sky and I think this is what this is.”
Mr Deegan questioned how the settlement of Wodonga would be portrayed in such a project.
“It has to be an honest history, no exaggerating things,” he said. “The history has got to come properly not that we pinched the land off the Aborigines, not that sort of garbage.”
Mr Deegan said it would be more worthwhile to spend $200,000 on a tourist information centre in Wodonga.
The city shutdown its visitors’ centre last year after declining numbers.
The $200,000 for the Wodonga Story comes as some councillors foreshadow cuts to services to tackle budget woes related to the misuse of a surplus from the city’s waste levy.
At last Monday’s council meeting, Cr Tim Quilty nominated communications as any area that he believed was suitable for cost reductions.
Cr Quilty and Cr Libby Hall will be the councillor representatives on a community committee reviewing the city’s rates.
Cr Quilty said he would be “shocked” if the review did not recommend a rate rise above the cap set by the Victorian government.