Making the Moree Plains Stronger
Following the NSW Government’s announcement regarding Round Three of the Stronger Country Communities Fund (SCCF) in July, Council has been working to finalise the projects it will support for this funding, with applications closing this week.
The SCCF funds projects and programs that improve the quality of life of people living in regional NSW, with up to $815,000 in funding available for the Moree Plains Shire in this funding round.
For the first time, not-for-profit and community organisations are able to apply directly for the $815,000 in funding allocated to the local government area. Council has already thrown its support behind a number of community groups who have prepared applications for this round including:
- Moree Boars Clubhouse and Grandstand - $300,000
- Country Kids’ Festival - $112,000
- Moree Cycling Project - $80,000
- Moree Water Ski Club Shelters, Playground and Trickle Creek - $135,000.
Several not-for-profit and community groups have also requested letters of support from Council since this time.
“We are so fortunate that the Moree Plains is home to so many enthusiastic community groups. We all know that these groups are the lifeblood of regional centres like ours,” said Mayor Katrina Humphries.
“I’m pleased that the NSW Government has recognised this and allowed community groups to apply directly to the Fund for the first time. To date, Council has provided letters of support for $627,000 worth of community-led projects, which will be largely delivered directly by these groups.
“Some of these projects are “shovel-ready” and just in need of funding to get started. These community projects will have a huge impact and it will be great to see the successful applicants get started.
Mayor Humphries encouraged local community groups to take advantage of the opportunity to apply for funding directly, “With such a large sum of money available in this round, I hope we will see lots of community projects underway across the Shire. If your community group has been considering infrastructure works, then this is the ideal opportunity to get your project off the ground so get your skates on, applications close this Friday”.
While the Moree Plains Shire local government area has been provided an allocation of up to $815,000 through this funding initiative, the NSW Government will ultimately select the projects which will receive funding. To ensure our Shire receives its full allocation, Council has also resolved to submit some Council-led projects as part of the funding round.
General Manager Lester Rodgers confirmed, “Noting that Moree Plains’ allocation under this funding round is up to $815,000, at its most recent meeting Council resolved to submit some Council-led projects including the Mungindi Tennis Court Revitalisation project and the MAX out MAAC project which will see the gym facilities at the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre extended.”
After much discussion at its most recent meeting, Council chose not to endorse a Council-led application to undertake a further stage of the Moree Civic Precinct Redevelopment project which included upgrades to the Banquet Hall and mezzanine areas, and the purchase of audio visual equipment which would allow for a cinema operation within the Precinct.
“Council is currently completing Stage One of the Civic Precinct Redevelopment project which has been funded 50% through State Government’s Create NSW funding and a 50% loan from Council,” explained Mr Rodgers.
The $2.4million project will see improvements to the building’s functionality and amenities, including installation of heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, fitting LED lighting and acoustic systems, new staging and rigging infrastructure, and improved disability access with lift and refurbished bathroom facilities.
“This is an important development and it is crucial that Council sees it completed within the terms of the funding arrangements. Completion of the Stage 1 works will primarily see the capital improvements necessary to make that wonderful facility a more modern, comfortable and useable place for our community.”
Mayor Humphries noted that that inclusion of subsequent stages of the Moree Civic Precinct Redevelopment project was debated for some time and commented, “Council understands the community sentiment for amenities such as a cinema complex in the Moree Plains. It’s a sentiment that many of us share and I am disappointed with the public commentary being run on social media – by people who were not in the meeting, I might add - which alleges otherwise”.
“At this point, I really do think it’s important to keep on top of the facts and I want to set the record straight.
“We need to remember that having a cinema is not just about the capital works needed to ensure that the cinema finds a suitable home; as important, or perhaps even more important, is making sure that the operation of such a business does not place additional burdens on the public purse.
“We need to bear in mind that grant funding will only fund capital works. As Councillors, we are entrusted with ratepayer funds to deliver many services (including our vast road network) to our community. We need to be confident that we have been diligent and really understand the ongoing costs of running such a facility.
“A great deal of further investigation would need to be made to ensure the cost burden on ratepayers and Council would not be significant. The recent move to streaming movies and television at home has also made a huge impact on the cinema industry and cannot be underestimated on the profitability of businesses such as these. I think our community rightly expects us to be prudent in our decision-making.
To date, Council has received $2.4 million in funding for 14 projects in Rounds One and Two of the Stronger Country Communities program, with many of the projects still in the delivery phase.
Round Three of the Stronger Country Communities Fund program is currently open, with applications closing this Friday 27 September 2019 at 5pm The Program Guidelines, Frequently Asked Questions, and details in relation to the application process can be found on the SCCF website:
Applications from community organisations for infrastructure on Council land or public reserves managed by Council must obtain written approval from Council to undertake the works.