THE priorities of Horsham Rural City’s seven councillors have guided its budget for the next financial year.
During the budgetary conversations, each councillor received a list of projects to prioritise on a low, medium or high level.
The seven councillors also provided a list of their top five projects as part of the process.
Councillors John Robinson and David Grimble listed the Horsham Aquatic Centre’s outdoor pool and wet area redevelopment as a key priority for council because the project had already received funding.
Cr Grimble said the rationale behind the decision was simple – council was successful with its funding application and the project was ready to start.
Both councillors listed the power infrastructure and economic development at the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal and the relocation of the Horsham council depot as high priorities.
They said improving the Wimmera Regional Livestock Exchange roofing and water catchment was also a top priority, in their opinion. Cr Robinson said the agricultural industry drove the economy. Therefore, the municipality needed to be more competitive.
Cr Grimble said improving the recycling capacity at the Kenny Road transfer station was a priority on his list.
Cr Robinson’s top five project list also included a western bridge over the Wimmera River. However, he said council needed to focus on strategic planning to determine which projects took precedence.
Cr Les Power refused to share his priorities, saying mayor Pam Clarke was the spokeswoman for the subject and council wanted to appear as “all for one and one for all”.
Cr Clarke said councillors gave officers an insight on the council’s direction at a meeting in December. However, she said the priority list was not definitive and was subject to change, depending on funding.
“We have to look at the realities of it – what we can and can’t do,” she said. “Some priorities are not achievable. The pedestrian bridge is a no brainer because it addresses the demand now – it connects to multiple estates and provides the perfect opportunity for children to ride safely to school.”
Councillors had the chance to endorse the start of a preliminary detailed plan for a pedestrian bridge near the vicinity of Hamilton Street at a meeting on May 7. However, councillors voted to revisit a strategy focused on resolving congestion issues in Horsham before making a decision.
Crs Josh Koenig and Alethea Gulvin said the projects they considered of great importance changed in line with community needs. Cr Koenig said he supported the decision of council.
Cr Mark Radford did not comment.