Letters to the Editor

August 31, 2016

‘Jump the fence’

Re: ‘‘Council out of touch’’.

Mr McIlroy there is an easy way to understand why someone holds a point of view and that is to put yourself in their position. I call it ‘‘jump the fence’’.

I have expressed my opinion about the tip management this year.

In your response, ‘‘No-one taking responsibility for the landfill,’’ you appear to be taking full responsibility for the facts surrounding this debacle.

So you have personally paid the fines? I doubt it.

I went to the tip on a Saturday afternoon recently and if it wasn’t for the fact that I was in a 4x4, I would have been turned away. So now we have a summer time tip.

Re: ‘‘long term neglect of unsealed roads’’.

The photo in the article speaks volumes.

Not an egg cup of gravel to be seen, all natural subsoil of clay typical of many areas in Benalla municipality.

Ms Schilling mentions a couple of roads, but there are many, many more.

Take Alexander Rd, Bungeet. If I used a shovel to divert the water of a section of this road council would want an application to construct a dam on a water course.

Mr McIlroy you quote how many kilometres have been graded last financial year.

With the gravel surface on these roads a distant memory, grading clay or top soil combined with no camber or drains, water takes the path of least resistance, down the road.

Your remedy? Shove the ‘‘rough surface’’ signs up.

I bet you have run out of these signs.

Some would argue it was a waste of money grading them at all.

Why mention that it costs $1 million to seal a kilometre of road, what the hell is wrong with some gravel?

That comparison is a continuation of the empire-building attitude that pervades council and senior management, while ratepayers in outlying areas put up with roads the early settlers would recognise.

I couldn’t help noticing you were selective and made no mention of the piano and the art gallery fiasco, nor any prospect of new businesses locating to Benalla to increase employment.

— David MacKinnon, Benalla

Are we there yet?

How would you like to have $1 million to spend by Christmas?

That is the challenge facing the council as we inch along slowly towards the World Gliding Championships.

This event has been coming for two years.

What has council done to prepare the airport and the town to showcase Benalla to the rest of the aviation world? Very little.

How is it going? Not much has happened yet and we are still stuck in winter weather.

There are roadworks, sealing, drainage, runway extensions and lots more to be done, but with council in caretaker mode until after the elections in October it is all looking very Rio at the moment.

Just stop for a second to do the maths:

The recent council newsletter states that there is $1.64 million to be spent on Stage 1 of the airport upgrade.

If we assume that $1 million has to be spent on improvements for the World Championships then this is around $250000 per month for the next four months.

With 20 working days a month that is spending $25000 every couple of days.

I don’t think so.

We must also expect that by now all the works and designs are agreed to, completed and approved and that plans, specifications and permits are in place and we are ‘‘shovel ready’’.

What is holding us back? Where are the big yellow toys?

Do the grants have to be returned if the work is not completed on time?

Too many questions — not enough answers.

Don’t let us down.

— Name withheld

Different interpretations

The Benalla Rural City Council’s chief executive officer’s Letter to the Editor, ‘‘Here are the facts’’, shows how different people interpret the written word.

For instance, the assertion in the anonymous letter , ‘‘No-one is taking responsibility for the landfill’’.

The rebuttal addressed the assertion that nobody was, ‘‘informed about the landfill’’. Two different things.

In regard to the 2.5 per cent rate rise cap. I, like many others, assumed erroneously that the 2.5 per cent rate rise cap meant that all ratepayers would have have a 2.5 per cent rise in their previous year’s rates.

That has proved not to be the case and has created some confusion.

Jobs have been advertised after redundancies were made. That is true. The reasons why are irrelevant to the assertion.

The author of the anonymous letter I think was mistaken on the superannuation issue.

There are probably council employees still in that scheme and there is probably a ongoing liability, but new employees wouldn’t be able to join that scheme.

Advocacy is very much a personal opinion issue.

The planning department not being responsive was interpreted as a reaction, time issue, when the possibility was the intention was to express a belief that the planning department was not responsive to negotiating with customers.

Long-term neglect of unsealed rural roads.

Wasn’t $4 million dollars of government funding for the repair of flood damage in rural areas diverted to the building upgrades in Benalla?

Grading of unsealed roads: If 509.4km of road was graded and some roads were graded more than once, then what length of the 777km of unsealed road was actually graded?

Maybe the anonymous letter writer has a point.

‘‘Shovel-ready’’ projects. If you are not going to start the project within the next 12 months, then the project has to be re-assessed — and updated to conform to any changes.

It is economically more responsible not to take the project any further than a basic cost estimate.

The federal and state governments are broke and the likelihood of them opening their purse is limited.

Coupled to the cost blow out at the tip, no responsible council would countenance spending large amounts of money on a feel-good project in the existing economic climate.

The landfill cell is interesting in that the original costing was publicised at $1.1million.

On July 20 this year, in the Benalla Ensign, it was published that the cost had increased by $700,000 to $1.8 million.

On August 24 it was published that the budget was $1.6 million and the actual cost was $2.4 million.

If you take into account the estimated cost of $100000 a month to truck waste elsewhere, fines, the cost of removal of the above-ground rubbish and compaction into the new cell (thereby reducing the life of the new cell), etc, it would not be unrealistic to assume the whole exercise will cost ratepayers in excess of $3 million.

Roughly three times more than the original estimate.

It is unfortunate that despite the CEO’s best intentions to supply the relevant information to ratepayers, to enable them to make informed decisions, the actual information supplied would not have enabled ratepayers to expect the costs to reach the level they have.

—P Carter, Benalla

Family details sought

McGUIRE FAMILY — NZ family are attempting to trace the descendants of Anthony McGuire born 1865.

He married Mary Cain and they had 11 children and lived in Benalla. Mary died in 1908.

Their eldest child Agnes, 1889-1946 married Albert Johnstone in 1910 and remained in Victoria.

We believe Agnes married Gordon Heath and they had five sons and one daughter.

Records show that the majority of Anthony and Mary’s children moved to New Zealand after their mother died.

Anthony later re-married Grace Margaret Mitchell and lived in Sydney NSW and had at least two more children, a son and a daughter (married name Williamson?)

Anthony was the eldest of 16 children, born between 1865 and 1888, to James & Ellen McGuire (Irish born) who lived in Ponsonby, Auckland.

The NZ family are keen to trace family members of Anthony and other descendants of James and Ellen in Australia to share family documentation and details of the family tree.

Also a family reunion is being held in Auckland NZ on Saturday 29 October 2016.

If you have a family tree or other information to share, have any queries and/or would like to attend the reunion, please contact Lynne at, write to Lynne c/o PO Box 15-1082, New Lynn 0640, Auckland, NZ or phone bus +64 9 825 0589, mobile +64 27 281 5374

— Rob McGuire, Auckland

Public apology needed

Re: ‘‘We all make mistakes’’.

I would like to respond to the letter from Mr Jenkins ‘‘Never Breached the Act’’ (Benalla Ensign August 24).

The facts are that all councillors repaid the small overpayment and took a 2.5 per cent cut in their allowances to allocate funds to a charity or project of the council’s choice.

This reduction in allowances has been in place for each of the four years of the current council term.

Mr Jenkins is quick to point out the errors of others and to throw stones.

His mistake in breaching the law, by misrepresenting the Mayor at the time Cr Barbara Alexander and myself, which caused the council to instigate defamation proceedings and his subsequent public apology comes to mind.

— Tony McIlroy, Chief Executive Officer

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