Better roads the right path

A Swan Hill councillor argues farmers want better roads, not a $1 million commitment to a bike path.

Bike lane to Boga? One Swan Hill councillor argues farmers want better roads, not a $1 million commitment to a bike path.

Bike lane to Boga? One Swan Hill councillor argues farmers want better roads, not a $1 million commitment to a bike path.

Swan Hill Rural City Council resolved at its last ordinary meeting to source external grants and contributions to fully fund the $2.5 million Swan Hill to Lake Boga shared path.

Council's 10-year Major Projects Plan had identified $1 million of the project would be funded through rates and $1.5 million through grants.

However, Central Ward councillor Chris Jeffery said farmers "want better roads to protect their product and help their businesses succeed".

Funding for the bike path, which is included in the Swan Hill Community Plan, is currently unallocated.

"Councillors, this needs to be seriously debated, something this elected council has done," Cr Jeffery said in speaking for the amendment, which was voted against by Mayor Les McPhee and Cr Bill Moar.

"I do support the building of a bike track between Swan Hill and Lake Boga, what I don't support is the exposure to council and ratepayers by committing to spend $1 million dollars of ratepayers money.

"We need to ensure that we are not putting ourselves in a compromising position of attracting funding that we may not be able to financially support, or may choose not to spend that amount of money."

Cr Jeffery said a black mark against council's name if it were to reject funding could jeopardise funding applications for other projects.

"The farmers that are the economic backbone of our municipality, of our towns and it's employment, who pay the highest amount in rates, localities like Bannerton, Boundary Bend and Lake Powell, who all contribute over $700,000 each in rates, or $14,000 a week, are never going to use a bike path," he said. 

To read more about this story, grab a copy of Wednesday's Guardian (January 17).

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