Indigo Shire Council has applauded extra funding in the Victorian Budget for rural roads but says the Budget falls short on funding for regional educational facilities, particularly the Beechworth Secondary College.
The Mayor, Cr Jenny O’Connor, said rural councils always struggled to keep up with the costs of building and maintaining roads.
“In Indigo we have about 1000km of unsealed roads that we have to maintain and 500km of sealed roads that need attention,” Cr O’Connor said.
“Our city counterparts do not have this issue and so we are very pleased to see in the Victorian budget $433 million for regional road restoration, including $100 million for The Fixing Country Roads Fund to restore local country roads to good condition.
“Establishing a new VicRoads division dedicated to fixing country roads — Regional Roads Victoria – is an acknowledgement of the unique needs of country councils looking after country roads.”
But Cr O’Connor said the Council could not understand the lack of funding for the much-needed new school buildings at the Beechworth Secondary College.
She said plans were drawn up two years ago for stage two of the building program, which began a decade ago.
“Portable buildings were put in place 10 years ago to make way for a three-stage building program, which has stalled after the first stage,” Cr O’Connor said.
“Ten years ago, there were plans to replace what had been temporary buildings put there 40 years earlier, but successive appeals to various State Governments to move forward on the building program have fallen on deaf ears – on both sides of the political spectrum,” she said.
“The need is great at the Beechworth College. They have been delivering education in sub-standard facilities for 10 years, after a program was put in place, on paper, to replace the temporary buildings of 40 years earlier.
“It just does not make sense. This is an issue that needs immediate attention. Based on need, the funds for the new buildings should be committed now.”
Cr O’Connor said the Council would write to the Premier and Minister for Education supporting calls from the school and the broader community for the immediate funding of the next stages of the building program.