Harden projects kept on hold after Hilltops Council meeting

Hilltops Councillor Tony Flanery put foward a motion to have Harden's priority ranking moved up the funding list at the last Council meeting.
Hilltops Councillor Tony Flanery put foward a motion to have Harden's priority ranking moved up the funding list at the last Council meeting.

An effort to give Harden projects a greater chance to receive a share of $5.1 million in state funding was voted down during April’s Hilltops Council meeting. 

The vote to re-prioritise funding was defeated six votes to five.

The motion was from Councillor Tony Flanery after a staff report, he felt, failed to ensure Harden would receive funding to finalise existing projects and directed any funding toward one project; in this case, $860,000 to the Harden Racecourse. 

Cr Flanery noted that projects in Young were ranked higher than Harden projects, with the exception of the racecourse. 

Harden Councillors Rita O’Connor, Chris Manchester and John Horton supported Cr Flanery, along with Wendy Tuckerman from Boorowa.

The motion was defeated by Councillors Greg Armstrong, John Walker, Matthew Stadtmiller, Margaret Roles, Tony Wallace and mayor Brian Ingram. 

“The net result is Harden is likely to be the big loser and may only get one project over the line,” Cr Flanery said.

“It was astounding that Harden was not supported by all of its elected councillors.”

Cr Manchester agreed that the ranking needed another look. 

“Projects around Harden that need a few dollars to complete, should have been moved up to get them finished and off the list,” Cr Manchester said.

The Express contacted the Hilltops Councillors who voted against the motion by email and asked their reasons behind their decision.

Cr Walker said while some councillors remained steadfastly “parochial”, he believed the project ranking was fair.

“Many months of thought and work had been committed to compiling and prioritising the community projects for grant funding - including a councillor workshop which Councillor Flanery did not attend,” Cr Walker said.

Cr Armstrong also believes the prioritisation is fair.

“Everyone had an opportunity to have input at a workshop that lasted over two and a half hours,” Cr Armstrong said. 

“Harden received approximately one third of the funding, and they have a population base of approximately 25 per cent of the Hilltops Council area.

“I think that is a very generous distribution of funds back to the Harden community.”

Councillors Roles, Ingram, Wallace and Stadtmiller didn’t respond to the Express’ questions, however Cr Stadtmiller forwarded a council media release, titled ‘Strengthening the Hilltops Region’.