A slew of local projects were considered at Tuesday’s council meeting to be applied for funding under round two of the Stronger Country Communities Fund.
Representatives from sporting clubs, churches and community advocacy groups each offered presentations at the meeting, hoping that their requests would take precedence. As one presenter said to the council, “you have an unenviable task in front of you, trying to choose which groups to allocate funding to”.
The Narrandera Shire Council has already been informed of a ballpark figure of grant funding that will be allocated to the Narrandera area; however, local councils were given the task of nominating which projects should be given funding to.
The council limited their funding to a final set list of projects. The decision on who to give funding to, and why, dominated the discussion at the meeting.
“I commend the community for putting forward so many projects,” said Cr Narelle Payne. “I am so excited, and also disappointed. There’s a sadness that we don’t have the money for all of them. Perhaps I should be angry at the deputy premier. Mr Barilaro put up the money – but he didn’t put up enough.”
Most of the projects presented by community groups were modest, well thought-out and capable of bringing huge benefits to the community. For example, the CRC asked for the funding to build disabled toilets in the CRC Hall. The Uniting Church asked for the funding for a covered barbeque area, as the Uniting Church often holds large community dinners, extending the hand of welcome to new comers in Narrandera. The Narrandera Bowling Club asked for the funding to build ramps for disabled access, and to upgrade the lights in the club.
“None of these projects are unworthy,” Cr Kevin Morris said. “But I was disappointed to see Barellan so far down the list.”
The Barellan Aged Care Support Group approached the council asking for funding for more aged care units in Barellan. The Barellan community has worked tirelessly to build six aged care units in the town. Two units are already built, and already have tenants in them.
According to secretary Sandra Vicary, the foundations and preliminary works for the remaining four are already in place, and the community simply need more funding so that building can begin.
“I would like to see Barellan in the top six,” Cr Morris said. “There are two units already there. The community have raised $300,000 for these.”
Cr David Fahey made the point that the order of preference would have very little bearing in reality.
“At the end of the day, the State Government has the final say as to what gets funding. I am disappointed that a lot of these projects didn’t come up in listening posts.”
Mayor Neville Kschenka pointed out that at previous grant applications the “top three” projects had been ignored in favour of an item further down the list. According to Deputy General Manager Infrastructure Julian Geddes, the council have been encouraged to “overapply”.
“We could apply for $150 million worth of projects. But at the end of the day, they will only fund projects to the value of a set amount.”
Eventually the council chose to compromise on some projects, reducing the amount of grant funding for the upgrade of Bolton Street in order to re-allocate some funding for the Narrandera Bowling Club.