HIGH Street traders should have taken precedence over former mayors and councillors who have gathered to celebrate the major milestones in Wodonga, according to the head of the city's ratepayer watchdog.
Ratepayers' association president Ian Deegan said he was incensed the event, which cost $1000, was even held and coincidentally was held on the same day a four-year rebuild of High Street was finally completed with the re-opening of the road to traffic.
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"The High Street traders are the ones who should have been invited in and given a free drink rather than former councillors and mayors basking in their own glory," he said.
"I'm sure they enjoyed patting themselves on the back at the same time High Street traders are struggling.
"It's our money they were spending.
"It was a totally unnecessary event because they put their hand up to do the job and get remunerated accordingly.
"It makes me quick sick to be honest."
Former mayors including Rod Wangman, Lisa Mahood and Mark Byatt were in attendance and Tim Quilty, who recently departed council to join the Victorian parliament, also attended.
Council confirmed a "small function" was held to reflect on the city's progress of the past 15 years.
"With the many changes in the city over this time frame including the building of The Cube Wodonga, WAVES, Logic, the development of the Woolworths development, Mann Central, Junction Place, the CBD revitalisation including the Elgin Boulevard realignment and High St reconstruction as well as what is to come with the library gallery redevelopment, the event was to acknowledge, recognise and thank past and present councillors on the planning and hard work that was undertaken and which is now coming to fruition," Wodonga chief executive Mark Dixon said.
"Between 20 and 25 people attended and the budget allocation for civic events covered the function cost of about $1000.
"Past and present councillors have been invited to similar functions like the opening of the new council chamber earlier this year."
The council has plans to stage a community event to mark the completion of the High Street upgrade, but details are still to be confirmed.
Mr Deegan, who is a former mayor, said it was also an "insult" former civic leaders pre-2000 weren't considered worthy to attend.
"Another option could have been spending $1000 on some sausages and bread from the butcher who has closed in High Street and cooked up a giant sausage sizzle in Junction Square to bring people back into High Street," he said.
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