HORSHAM Rural City Council has allocated nearly a quarter of new federal government funding to its Water Play Splash Park as part of the City to River project.
At its meeting on Monday night, councillors endorsed this and 12 other projects across the municipality on which the council plans to spend its $1,428,396 share of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program.
The report councillors saw, authored by Infrastructure Director John Martin and Acting Project Office Co-Ordinator Dianna Blake, noted the projects had to be completed by 2021 to meet the government's funding criteria.
$350,000 of this will be allocated towards the splash park, which the council is also seeking state government funding to complete. Online information sessions on the park are due this Thursday.
The motion was moved by Cr Josh Koenig, and seconded by Councillor Alethea Gulvin.
Cr Koenig said: "It's a good use of funds I would suggest. I note the council ran some media (on the splash park) in the last week which was well-received.
Cr Gulvin asked Mr Martin if the "footpath defects backlog", which there are plans to address with $150,000 in the Horsham urban area, could also cover Natimuk.
Mr Martin said: "I'll take that on board and we will make sure we pay due attention to Natimuk as well."
Cr Gulvin also asked if some money allocated to Horsham Town Hall could be put towards Natimuk. Cr Mark Radford said no.
Cr Pam Clarke said it was great to see Jung, Walmer, Mitre and Quantong facilities receiving funding.
"They are really important... You don't often get funding coming through where we can step outside of our budget and fund the things we normally couldn't fund," she said.
Extra town hall spend scrutinised
Cr David Grimble asked for more information about the "motorised acoustic banners" valued at $150,000 which will be added to Horsham Town Hall's main theatre.
Community Services Director Kevin O'Brien replied: "Since the town hall started, the acoustics in the theatre area have not been quite to the standard expected. It's been highlighted by our technician the issues that exist there," he said.
"This will certainly improve the quality of events at the theatre. I understand this was one of the projects not done initially as part of the town hall development, so it's certainly will add value to the acoustics in the theatre."
Cr Grimble said he would not support the motion, saying the council had chosen to fund more community infrastructure projects than local roads with the funding provided.
He said he was "disappointed" to see how much more money needed to be spent on the town hall, given the cost of construction to the community.
Rural roads ahead despite no allocation from this program
"This list of projects certainly doesn't have any rural road projects, and that's part of the funding criteria," he said.
"The other part is the ($200,000 committed to the) Hamilton Street Pedestrian Bridge. Mr Mayor, I believe we won't be able to construct let alone plan and go to tender and complete those works within the timeframe."
Cr Grimble also said he regretted none of this funding had been committed to improving the rail corridor underpasses through Horsham.
Addressing the query about rural roads, Mr Martin said two urban road projects funded on the list had been dropped from the budget.
This includes $3.845 million for rural roads reconstruction and $184,000 for rural bridge reconstruction. Urban roads will receive $1.876 million of ratepayers' money for reconstruction over the same timeframe.
Mr Martin said: "It's not a rural versus urban thing, it's a matter of what had been previously dropped, and these priorities had been identified based on conditions inspections and... addressing the roads in the poorest condition first."
Mr Martin said the council had determined the community infrastructure projects funded to distribute funding across the municipality.
Cr John Robinson didn't vote, declaring a conflict of interest as his wife is a committee member of the Taylor's Lake Hall, which is receiving $12,000.
Robinson withdraws splash park motion
Later in the meeting, Cr Robinson withdrew a motion calling on the council to move the location of the splash park back into the Horsham Aquatics Centre.
He foreshadowed another motion he would eventually calling on the council to compare the aquatics centre site to council's chosen site around Eastgate Drive to the community.
He also withdrew a motion trying to make an audit into the council's City to River decision-making process public, after being pulled up on several points of order for starting debate before asking his questions and planing to quote from the council's legal advice.
"My advice is I will table a further motion at the next meeting for an independent forensic audit of the City to River decision making process," he said.
Altogether, City to River projects will receive $1.448 million of council money for stage one implementation in 2020-2021.
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