MAYOR Col Murray says Tamworth’s $1 million drought assistance grant has to go towards something which will have a long-lasting benefit for the region.
Cr Murray said the drought dosh wouldn’t be spent before the end of 2018 and hinted Tamworth Regional Council was reluctant to put the money towards a quick fix for local business.
He said council wanted to “explore opportunities which would provide long-lasting benefit for farmers”.
He revealed two options to The Leader council was currently considering.
“We’re looking at more bulk water filling points, so farmers don’t have to pay the extra freight costs,” Cr Murray said.
“We’re also looking at cattle grids on public roads.
“They’re usually owned and maintained by the farmers, but we are seeing if there’s a possibility of upgrading or sealing the 10 metres of road either side of the grids.”
Cr Murray said the cattle grids were an ongoing issue and potholes often formed on the dirt roads where concrete grids had been installed.
“We’d never get specific funding to address it, we could spend quite a few million dollars just solving those issues,” he said.
The mayor said there was about 1500 grids in the Tamworth council area.
A few months ago, council voted in favour of establishing a number of water standpipes in the region granting residents free access.
Access to bulk water from the Lockheed Street filling station was not supported mainly because council believed it would have a negative impact on local carting businesses.
Cr Murray said more creating more bulk water points in Tamworth could be beneficial for the carters.
“The water carters could do a day's work in smaller towns catering for the people out there,” he said.
“It’d reduce the cost to consumers so they might be more likely to engage the carters.”
This month Moree Plains Shire Council had its shop local scheme knocked back by the federal government and later endorsed a four-pronged infrastructure and water upgrade.
Meanwhile, Glen Innes Severn Council also suggested a local economy stimulus package, a landholders’ support hub, a Deepwater stand pipe, and a road upgrade with its drought funding.
A spokesman for the Minister for Local Government, Bridget McKenzie, said projects funded by the Drought Communities Programme must start on or after August 19, 2018 and end on or before June 30, 2019.
“The aim of the projects is for local councils to invest in local infrastructure that improves local amenity and provides a boost to local businesses,” he said.
There is additional funding available to councils to manage the coordination and delivery of drought relief efforts, such as employing staff to work with community to identify appropriate drought relief projects.
Other projects funded by the Drought Communities Programme range from wild dog fencing and rehabilitation of sporting ovals, to the installation of new water bores.
Funding has also enabled the construction of a desalination plant in the community of Ilfracombe in western Queensland.