INDIGO Shire's mayor has hit back at claims the council is squandering ratepayers' money on bike trails.
Bernard Gaffney also slammed suggestions the council was biased towards Beechworth in its expenditure.
Councillor Gaffney was speaking after submissions to address the council's draft budget had been presented to the council on Tuesday night.
Rutherglen activist Herb Ellerbock said the council "should reduce spending on cycling infrastructure and focus on improving existing infrastructure", while Beechworth carer Christine Stewart said cycle trails were "proving to be nothing but a huge expense to the community".
"Regarding bike trails, council has not put any extra ratepayers' money into this budget - it's all from previous budgets," Cr Gaffney said.
"There's no new money in this budget that's been allocated to bike tracks or rail trails - not a cent."
IN OTHER NEWS
Responding to claims that Indigo Shire Council expenditure was biased and inequitable, Cr Gaffney said pie charts on social media showing what appears to be a huge slice of money going to Beechworth were "not showing the true picture".
"When you talk about shire spending, you're also talking about grants from the federal and state government, not just ratepayers' money," he said. "These graphs don't show where it came from.
"You will find that the most money to be spent in 2022 and 2023 will be in Rutherglen - there's a $57 million aged care facility; there's a $5.1 million pathway track.
"The community of Rutherglen were consulted about what was the most important project and that $5.1 million project was their priority and that's federal government money, not ratepayers' money.
"The government is putting in $57 million - the highest amount ever seen in Indigo Shire - in Rutherglen, yet still the people in Rutherglen are complaining."
However, Cr Gaffney said he would be surprised if the final version of the budget was not changed to accommodate community needs.
"Of all the years I've been on council, this is the most that we have engaged with our community," he said.
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