Grant issue a big concern
We are writing in response to your article in The Border Mail, “$7.4m bridge to grow city population” (December 12, 2018) highlighting funding of some infrastructure for the proposed residential land development in the Wangaratta North West Growth Area.
It was reported, from a Wangaratta Council staff officer, that “the funds were spread across this year and next year’s budget, but would be recouped from the federal government”.
This statement is misleading and incorrect in regard to the bridge funding.
The bridge and Reith Road project mentioned will be funded by the Wangaratta North West Growth Area Development Contribution Plan (DCP), recently adopted and approved by council, awaiting final approval (but not yet approved) by the Victorian Minister for Planning and his department.
Most of these projects will be funded by us, the landowners and developers, $30 million of it, not ratepayers or the federal government.
If by some miracle extra funds have become available, no-one has told us.
There are billions of government dollars being spent on infrastructure around the country, why can’t Wangaratta Council get a morsel of this?
The DCP payment is a separate payment to all internal infrastructure works within the development which are fully funded by the landowner/developer.
These DCP projects and others in the development will benefit many user groups outside the development.
We believe we have been unfairly overburdened with many of these costs.
We have highlighted to council many miscalculations, inaccuracies and noted a lack transparency in costings and scope of many works outside the development that we still have to fund.
We believe this high cost burden is counterproductive to the future development of affordable housing in Wangaratta.
A $3 million grant was allocated to the Cruise Street Bridge Project back in 2016, well documented in the local press and council minutes.
Wangaratta Council, however, in its wisdom, reallocated these funds somewhere else, but when questioned could not tell us where.
This money came from the federal government fuel excise fund. We have asked council to show us this paper trail, to no avail.
Member for Indi Cathy McGowan’s staff were requested by us to pursue this paper trail in Canberra, to no avail.
Surely there has to be some paperwork for a $3 million grant allocated to a specific project.
Our concerns have been aired many times to council staff and councillors over the past 10 months with formal submissions, meetings and a Planning Panel hearing – we have been heard, but with little or no action.
But for a precious few in council, most reaction has been dismissive, defensive and disappointing.
Recently we took our concerns direct to the planning minister and have met with a DELWP planning officer, the most positive meeting we have had all year.
Gary Wilson and Greg Mitchell, on behalf of 15 land owners in the Wangaratta North West Growth Area
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