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City and North Wagga levee bank upgraded sidelined in WWCC 2014/15 budget

Tuesday April 15, 2014 - 10:58 EST

The Wagga Wagga City Council is looking to remove its funding of the main city and North Wagga levee bank upgrade from this year's budget, in favour of using a proposed rate increase to pay for the project.

It will save council nearly $7m this financial year, but detailed design works are continuing and are expected to be finalised by December.

Mayor Rod Kendall says the project is yet to secure the needed state and federal government funding commitments, so it makes sense to delay putting aside its contribution.

He says council plans to raise the money in the 2016/17 financial year.

"The levee bank is certainly a one off special project," he said.

"Council has resolved it would be funded through a special rate variation, specifically for the levee bank.

"It'll be a special funding arrangement, which would be added to the rates and then taken off once the funding had been raised."

Councillor Kendall has defended the move, saying the project cannot proceed without state and federal money.

"We can't afford to construct a levee bank without that confirmation of funding," he said.

"We continue to push, particularly state government, for that funding for the levee bank.

"We consider it's an important aspect of the city.

"I will say, the levee bank constructed in the 1960s hasn't, at this stage, been breached in its lifetime."

Councillor Kendall hope the finalisation of designs this year for the levee bank upgrade project, will pave the way for government funding commitments.

"The detailed design is expected to be completed by the end of this calendar year," he said.

"The expectation is once that design is complete, we can have accurate costings, rather than the estimates we've got at this stage.

"We would expect and certainly hope we would get funding commitments for the levee bank at that stage.

Meanwhile, other cost cutting measures the council is considering this financial year include the shutting of the Wagga Library at 6:00pm on weekdays, reducing some of the mobile library's service areas, and closing the Civic Theatre box-office on a Saturday morning.

It is also investigating reducing street cleaning frequency in some parts of the city and limiting works on the Lake Albert foreshore.

Council is also considering reducing its staff training and education assistance budgets, looking to not replacing the 'wave ball' at the Oasis Aquatic Centre, and reducing funding for the maintenance of cricket pitches at Bolton Park.

Councillor Kendall says council is also looking to cut its immunisation program, because it is no longer needed locally.

He says when council started the program is was a service needed locally, but now that has changed.

"We've found that now every doctor's surgery in town and the Medicare Local offer immunisation services, they get a Medicare rebate for that, they're bulkbilled at no cost to the clients, and people can obviously for that in on as required basis, that service is just no longer required for council," he said.

"It costs council a considerable amount of money and by cutting that, there is no loss of service to the community."

Public consultation over the draft budget is expected to begin after Easter.


© ABC 2014

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