“Matters will be considered” – Butler

By Robert Muir

Matters raised by Mulwala residents at last week’s draft council budget information session will be considered in the final 2019/20 Federation Council Budget.

Council’s budget is to be formally adopted on Tuesday, June 25, at the June meeting, following the four-week exhibition period which sought feedback.

Despite just 17 Mulwala residents – including the two town-based councillors Bronwyn Thomas and Andrew Kennedy - attending last week’s session in the Mulwala Civic Centre, plenty of interest was shown as well as questions being asked during the 75-minutes gathering.

Residents noted with interest the budgetted $70,000 Kingfisher Drive bus bay. “We’re expecting it to be done by September/October – certainly before Christmas,” council’s director engineering services Steve Carmichael told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

Residents in the specific area, however, raised other concerns. Resident Brad Pepper feared a serious accident will occur unless there is adequate signage to slow down motorists in the area.

Thirty-six children use the bus and some motorists drive too fast, especially along Tocumwal Road, according to Mr Pepper.

Mulwala Progress Association President Robert Purtle OAM also mentioned the nearby Heather Circuit which houses 11 children and for which he said should have a bus
shelter .

Drainage and footpath concerns were mentioned, including the separation of footpath in Melbourne Street between the Shoreline park and the canal bridge. The approximate 40m gap in footpath was raised by Helen Purtle and at least a possible pedestrian refuge was suggested. 

Questions were asked about the lack of physical progress of major projects including the All-Abilities Adventure Playground, the Corowa – Mulwala cycle/walk trail and Kyffins Reserve. 

Design of the much anticipated playground is now complete following recent refinements to the design. The tender process is planned for August/September, with construction to begin in 2020. Design of the cycle/walk trail is still being undertaken; there is no evidence of any makeover for Kyffins Reserve.

Mayor Pat Bourke spoke in glowing terms about the estimated $1.32 million All-Abilities park to be located at Purtle Park. “It’s a really significant project and we are doing everything to make it so special,” he said.

“We understand the tourist appeal Mulwala has…” Mr Purtle emphasised: “Mulwala is the jewel in the Federation Council area crown.” 

“The playground will have tremendous appeal and we want to make sure we have everything designed for it,” Mayor Bourke said. 

“It will be a wonderful, unique playground and attraction, not only for local residents but will attract people from far and wide.”  

Council’s General Manager Adrian Butler described the 2019/20 budget as “a responsible budget, delivering on a balanced budget”. 

“There is minimal increase in rates and charges, and an unprecedented number for priority projects for at least the next two years.”

Federation Council’s rate increase is capped at the state’s ceiling of 2.7%. Resident and a previous Corowa Shire councillor, Peter Seeliger, enquired as to whether a special rate increase over the rate capping was mooted in the future.

“Good question,” Mr Butler responded. The answer was in the negative at this stage but has been successfully applied for in the past decade by council.

Former long-term councilor Paul Talbot said the many years of rate capping during his 25 years on Corowa Shire Council held the shire back.

But many big projects were undertaken during his reign including the Melbourne Street construction, Mulwala Civic Centre, the Owen Bridges Reserve and assistance to build the Yarra/Mul Swimming Pool.

The opportunity was taken by the General Manager to advise that buyer interest has been strong regarding the 32 new lots on Mulwala Business Park.

“It’s going better than projected,” he said. “We have a realistic lot price and lots are selling well.

“Sixteen lots are to be developed at the Howlong Business Park.” 

Mr Butler emphasized that all matters raised by residents at last week’s budget information session will be considered for inclusion in council’s 2019/20 budget, including the possibility of shifting priorities to incorporate additions.

Council’s budget information sessions throughout the Federation Council area have been poorly attended. No-one attended the Corowa session. Mulwala recorded the largest attendance out of the five council sessions. But that didn’t stop Mr Purtle taking a swipe at Mulwala’s low attendance.

After describing the meeting as “very constructive”, Mr Purtle said: “It was a bit disappointing that more people in Mulwala don’t attend and get involved because it is their future being planned.”