Focus on ‘world class cycling’

By Corowa Free Press

By Rhys Williams

 A continued focus on world class cycling infrastructure is the cornerstone to Indigo Shire Council’s 19/20 draft budget.

Among many cycling developments, the Wahgunyah to Lake Moodemere cycle trail is proposed to receive an injection of $130k along with additional $20k towards the Rutherglen Wine Cycle Loop Scoping Project, as part of the draft budget released last week.

 “With funding for major projects including trail construction and further trail scoping, Indigo Shire is becoming a truly world class cycling destination,” Indigo Shire Mayor Cr Bernard Gaffney told the Free Press.

 “We have always prided ourselves as a premier cycle destination and now we will really be on the world stage.

 “The new epic trail alone is expected to bring 12,500 visitors to North East Victoria. It will create 34 FTE jobs and inject $5.18 million in direct and indirect expenditure in North East Victoria.”

Cycling projects funded in the draft 2019/20 Indigo Shire budget include:

· 200,000 toward the $2.58 million Beechworth to Osborne’s Flat Rail Trail extension

· $1 million toward the Beechworth to
Yackandandah Epic Mountain Bike Trail

· $130,000 for stage three of the Wahgunyah to Lake Moodemere cycle trail

· $20,000 towards the Rutherglen Wine Cycle Loop scoping study

· $30,000 to develop a shire-wide Trails

 If approved, Stage 3 of the Wahgunyah to Lake Moodemere trail will see a further 1.4km of sealed shared pathway constructed near the banks of the Murray River. This will connect the end of the stage 2 works, completed in June 2018, with the boundary of Lake Moodemere and thus completing the current commitment from council to connect Wahgunyah with the Lake Moodemere reserve.

Additionally, the Rutherglen Wine Cycle Scoping Project has the potential to create a motivating visitor experience by linking the town centre to wineries, Lake Moodemere, the Murray River and connectivity to the existing Murray to Mountains Rail Trail section.

If endorsed within the draft budget, the scoping project would commence in the first quarter of 2019/2020 financial year.  

Other funding included in the draft is $40,000 towards extensions for Rutherglen’s skate park, as well as a contribution of $15k for the Rutherglen Wine Experience.
Budget funds for the skate park would go towards further developing designs, and minor infrastructure improvements would be made in preparation for a funding grant application for an upgraded skate park.

The draft budget outlines a total operating income of $34.538 million with a total expenditure of $30.085 million, including a $10.76 capital works program, and an underlying cash surplus over two years.

 In line with the rate cap for the 2019/20 financial year, Indigo Shire Council’s draft budget proposes a rate increase of 2.5 per cent. 

“As a small rural council, one of the biggest challenges in putting together our draft budget each year is the need to find saving to meet the impact of continued rate capping in conjunction with an increasing demand for services,” Mayor Gaffney said. 

“It is important to note that, for many council projects, we rely on external funding and this is reflected in the draft budget, with $6.359 million in grants and contributions to fund our capital works program.” 

Other highlights of the draft budget include:  

· $10.76 million in capital works including upgrades to roads, drainage and footpaths  

· More than $800,000 in sport and recreation facility upgrades  

· Removal of spectator fees at Indigo Shire’s five swimming pools  

· $430,000 for road resealing across Indigo Shire  

· $110,000 for the Beechworth Railway Goods Shed refurbishment  

· $160,000 towards the Chiltern Flood Study  

· $110,000 on Indigo Creek Park public toilets in Barnawartha

 The community can view the draft budget via the council website where an interactive map detailing capital works projects is also available. 

 Submission on the draft budget can be made by the community until 31st of May, 2019.