Councillors have their say on secession push

Latrobe City mayor Sharon Gibson says she understands the Traralgon Community Development Association’s concerns about equity of funding, but has stopped short of voicing her support for the town’s secession.

Cr Gibson said she could “understand why Traralgon is not happy”.

“I believe if we are truly to be equitable, then all towns need to have their fair share,” she said.

“My questions if I lived there would be on how much extra would I need to pay in rates, as the rate base would not be as large and you still need to provide all of the services for the town that occurs at the moment including rubbish, libraries, roads, childcare, kindergartens, home care services and footpaths.

“This would all be prior to being able to furnish capital works projects.”

Two Traralgon-based councillors said they were open to hearing community concerns.

Cr Dale Harriman said he supported Traralgon getting a “fairer share”, emphasising it was the reason he ran for council.

Cr Kellie O’Callaghan said the issue of equity of resource distribution was important and remained a focus of council.

“My priority is to ensure advocacy for those projects are a priority for the community. I welcome any discussions, especially through the public presentation meetings to explore the merits of projects and ideas that are important to the community,” she said.

Cr O’Callaghan said at this time she did not believe the State Government had an “appetite for change” to the current municipal boundaries and she was happy to hear from the TDCA and the broader community.

Cr Michael Rossiter said it was important the facts and figures relating to council expenditure were made available to the public for review and discussion.

Churchill-based councillor Darrell White said the population of Traralgon needed to be taken into account when comparing expenditure in towns.

Mr White said because of Traralgon’s population it had a greater proportion of services in terms of road and footpath maintenance, children’s services and aged care programs like Meals on Wheels, along with a greater proportion of time from council planning staff looking at subdivisions.

He said Traralgon was “on the radar”, citing capital works projects like the Franklin Street bridge, Victory Park Sound Shell, tennis court upgrades and construction of the multi-level car park in Seymour Street.

Morwell-based councillor Christine Sindt said Traralgon’s secession was not on the council agenda.

“Latrobe City councillors have been elected, and have sworn an oath, to represent Latrobe City as a whole,” Cr Sindt said.