Drought funding endorsed

By Robert Muir

Except for Cr Fred Longmire, Federation Council’s councillors endorsed 14 projects to share in a further $1 million Federal Government funding regarding the drought community program.

The Round 2’s 14 projects and the amounts of funding, with the biggest single allocation of $200,000 for Balldale Water, are presented in the table below.

Federation Council was informed on November 7 2019 that a further allocation of drought funding would be provided, on top of the first round’s $1 million.

Council staff undertook community consultation with representatives from the Community Resilience Committee and recommended the 14 projects.

Grant guidelines stipulate that projects must have no less than $25,000 of eligible expenditure and be completed by December 31, 2020.

Of 45 community members invited, 26 attended a meeting with council on February 14 to discuss existing projects and any other projects. 

The recommendation before council’s monthly meeting on February 17 was endorsed by six of the seven councillors in attendance. Crs Gail Law and Andrew Kennedy were apologies.

Cr Longmire strongly disputed the allocation of funding, claiming the northern end of Federation Council area was strongly favoured, to the detriment of the southern end.

He said the northern part had received $750,000 in Round 1 and $640,000 in Round 2, equalling 70% of the total $2 million.

“Some have prescribed that the northern section was the worst affected when the drought declaration was made,” Balldale resident Cr Longmire said.

“But official post office records at Balldale and farmer records at Daysdale have identified in the 2108 and 2019 calendar years they were in the worst five lowest totals.”

In her report for council, council’s director community and corporate services Jo Shannon said the estimated costs for each option in the full Balldale Water project exceeded the amount of funding available and therefore the full project could not be funded under this grant.

She said one option (the $200,000 new bore and pipeline to improve non-treated water supply quality to Balldale) contains staged elements that could be achieved which would produce an accepted outcome, at least for the shorter term, without compromising or being wasted if any longer term (treated water) project was delivered.

“A first stage would result in the installation of a bore and full commissioning, and a 5km pipeline to link up to the existing bore main, to allow delivery to town,” Ms Shannon said.

“A test bore at this site drilled previously indicates a very good quality and quantity of bore water is present. Electricity will need to be installed also and this is estimated within the $200,000 that is proposed from the drought funding. A contingency of $50,000 is provided for within the amount sought.”
Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke reminded councillors he was a member of the committee endeavouring to have Federation Council drought declared and mentioned it was the lack of rainfall in the northern part which led to the council area being drought declared.

He also mentioned and praised the influence of local Federal Member Susan Ley in pushing to have Federation Council drought declared, to receive drought funding.

“We were told to make sure we used that funding in the northern part where that drought declaration originated from,” Mayor Bourke said.

“We held a public meeting with Balldale on the long outstanding issue. We’ve taken a stand on the Balldale water and put some actions in place to make it happen.

“The $200,000 is towards a new bore to start addressing the issues at Balldale.”

Before the resounding ‘Yes’ vote on Round 2’s list of 14 projects, Cr Bronwyn Thomas asked: “Are we doing this well? Can we do it better?”

Speaking later to the The Free Press, she elaborated on her questions, saying that Federation Council’s distribution of funds for both Round 1 and Round 2 has been based on concepts, projects and programs derived from a combination of community and council input.

“At the time Council sought the groups’ assistance and update on seasonal conditions with the application for Natural Disaster being explored,” she said.

“Since then council has engaged the working group twice with both rounds of the drought funding to gauge the appetite for the projects respectively.

“Round 2 also involved a bus trip around the proposed sites for delivery which provided an invaluable opportunity to not only visit sites but have conversations.

“With the firm guidelines set by the Federal Government around the delivery of the drought funding and tight time frames, council needs to take this opportunity to review, report and revise on the delivery of this unique welcomed funding.

“Let’s look at lessons learnt and respond accordingly to provide feedback to the Federal Government through a report provided by key staff and community.”

The list of recommended projects:

Oaklands Bowling Green $150,000 Green Resurfacing.

Daysdale Water Improvements $25,000 Water reservoir needs to be upgraded.

Savernake Hall $35,000 Minor repairs and heating/cooling for main hall. Potential to look at solar installation.

Balldale $25,000 Bruce Richardson Park, New Seats Play equipment, Bins and Irrigation.

Urana Bowling Green $180,000 New Synthetic Green surface. 

Boree Creek Hall $25,000 Sanding of Hall and painting of Stage area. 

Urana Aquatic Centre Reliable Water $115,000. This project will enable the completion of this project which was funded in Round one. This allocation will remove the need for funding from council for this project. This would include the installation of a bore to guarantee water levels. Any shortfall if any would need to be met by Council Reserve/other funding. 

Boree Creek Tim Fischer Park - Tim Fischer Statue $40,000. Installation of a Statue in Boree Creek commemorating the life of Tim Fischer and his connection to rail. 

Balldale Water, $200,000. New bore and pipeline and associated works to improve non-treated water supply quality to Balldale.

Wi-Fi Boosters for Community Halls and Farming Communities $50,000 Pilot the installation of Wi-Fi booster at the community halls and Centres where the childcare services operate in the LGA. This will provide support in those times when there is high fire danger or weather conditions are poor. Will also allow locations for tourists to be able to gain data access during their travel in and around the rural locations. Rand, Urana, Oaklands.

Rand Bowling Club $25,000 Roof repairs, solar and BBQ area. 

Project Manager $50,000 Oversight/Management of Funded projects. Council Wide Impact (based in Corowa).

Urana $50,000 Additional funding to complete the Pedestrian bridge which is currently under final planning and about to go to tender. 

Urana Caravan Park $30,000. Decking for park camp kitchen.