Water supply services, rural and regional roads, Moree Regional Airport and Moree Civic Precinct Redevelopment are among the major projects Moree Plains Shire Council will undertake over the next year, as set out in its draft 2019-2020 operational plan and budget.
At last month's council meeting, on Thursday, May 23, councillors endorsed the draft operational plan and budget 2019-2020, now on public exhibition, which includes a number of big ticket items.
The biggest is $15 million which is set aside for water supply services including the completion of asset renewal and upgrade works to water supply assets, the installation of automated meter reading equipment across the shire and the commencement of grant-funded water security projects.
More than $7 million is allocated for the reseal of regional rural roads and the sealing of Carrigan Road from Mungindi to Boomi (which is largely grant funded), while a further $5.32 million will go towards the completion of the causeway/washout upgrade program and works to maintain the bitumen seal network across rural roads in the shire, as well as works on the Croppa Creek and Melburra roads.
Moree Regional Airport will be getting more than $5 million worth of upgrades, including CCTV and security upgrades, design works for a new terminal and, subject to obtaining grant funding, upgrade works to the terminal building and associated facilities.
More than $3 million will go towards upgrades to sporting fields, parks and other recreational assets, while $2.5 million is allocated for works to increase capacity at Moree Waste Management Facility.
The long-awaited Moree Civic Precinct Redevelopment will finally get underway, with $2.34 million scheduled for upgrade works to Moree Memorial Hall, including modern heating and cooling, electrical works, lobby and breezeway upgrades, lighting, stage and acoustic infrastructure improvements, and disability and mobility upgrades.
Other major projects include urban road works, the completion of asset renewal works to sewerage assets, maintenance and upgrades of transport infrastructure assets, and improvements to footpaths and cycleways.
At the council meeting, councillors resolved a number of changes to the 2019-2020 budget, including that the line allocations for the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre specify a Community Service Obligation (CSO) of $300,000, allocating $250,000 for 'other expenses', replacing the current $550,000 line allocation.
Some of the other resolutions include retiring council debt with funds from the property reserve ($300,000), gravel pits internal reserve ($613,373), on-site effluent internal reserve ($60,000), medical accommodation internal reserve ($64,149), and the balance of the Jellicoe Park Fund once maintenance work has been approved, while the available balance in the Road Sustainability Fund (in the amount of $440,500) will be made available for road infrastructure purposes.
The current available balance of the TED Fund for the 2018-2019 financial year ($43,503) will be allocated for Inland Rail Strategic Works including desktop workings and support services to the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alliance; while additional funding ($70,000) from the 2019-2020 TED Levy be allocated to the Moree Intermodal Development and Special Activation Precinct (Economic Development Project) project to increase the funding available for the project for the 2019-2020 financial year to $150,000.
Moree mayor Katrina Humphries said she believes it is a "good and fair" budget.
"We tried, in very difficult times, to make ends meet and not cut too much back," she said.
"We kept a tight rein on everything humanly possible and have even given money back to the community, with water rebate.
"There are no nasty surprises."
The draft 2019-2020 operational plan and budget is currently on public exhibition, with residents invited to make comment by 5pm on Monday, June 24.