The Council welcomes the community’s responses to the 2024/25 budget

WELLINGTON Shire Council hosted a special meeting on Thursday, May 16 to hear the public’s response to the 2024/2025 Council Budget.

The gallery looked emptier and decidedly more informal, with only four councilors present in person. They were Mayor Ian Bye, northern ward councilors Carolyn Crossley and Carmel Ripper, and coastal ward councilor Marcus McKenzie.

Meerlieu Hall Committee of Management

Meelieu residents James Blandford and Jen Smith visited the council to apply for $380,000 for extensions to the Mark Blandford Pavilion at Meerlieu Hall. The hall also functions as a pavilion for the Meerlieu Cricket Club. The hall committee is trying to expand the possibilities of the sports facilities by adding separate locker rooms for men and women.

The committee also requested $850,000 over three years for asbestos removal, restroom facilities and kitchen upgrades in the hall.

Mr Blandford began a speech explaining that the Meerlieu Hall may be the only one Meerlieu has.

“We don’t have a school, library, parks, public toilets, waste collection, swimming pool or footpath, but we do have one well-used community facility,” he said.

“My family has been actively involved in the maintenance of this facility for more than 80 years. My grandfather built the first kitchen and toilets in the 1970s. My father and I renovated the kitchen in the early 2000s; I helped renovate the cricket pavilion… and in 2016 I expanded it to include two teams.”

Upgrade to non-sports facilities

Maffra resident Jim King attended the gallery to speak about Wellington Shire’s budget plans amid concerns that almost all major upgrades in the region will take place in the sporting facilities, particularly the upgrades to the Cameron Sporting Complex which receiving $920,000 and the Maffra Lawn Tennis Club receiving $920,000. $365,000.

Mr King believes additional funding should have gone to places like McMillan Rockhounds and the Maffra Men’s Shed.

“As a resident of Maffra, I note that there is a range of highly reputable and modern facilities for sports clubs,” he said.

“In recent years these clubs have received extensive government funding to upgrade their facilities. This is great for current and future participants using these locations. However, not all Maffra residents participate in sporting activities; instead, they rely on subtler forms of recreation offered by smaller community groups.

“I submit that non-sporting community groups have been let down by the council in relation to serious funding (needed) to upgrade to basic and safe facilities on potentially owned/managed land in Maffra.”

Mr King added that the Maffra Men’s Shed has built a new shed costing $180,000.

“We got $80,000 from a state grant, and the remaining $100,000 was raised locally through city fundraising,” he said.

“That reflects that our shed is well and truly supported by the local community. We have received a small financial contribution from the municipality, but we need a major injection.

“Instead of budgeting by the municipality for established sports groups to modernize existing infrastructure, I propose that a temporary suspension of funding for large sports clubs is implemented to allow a complete review of the (necessary) construction work for small community groups in the county possible. ”

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