Residents are shocked at the attitude displayed by Towong Council with its decision to cease funding of the three SES units within the Shire. Volunteers operate stations at Tallangatta, Corryong and Mitta that are part funded, on a dollar for dollar basis, by the State Government and the Shire.
The Shire will be increasing rates for this financial year but it seems that despite a rate increase of 3.5%, the Council is unable to manage its financial affairs and that the annual provision of around $35,000 for these vital services is to be withdrawn. The Council was given exemption by the State Government to increase rates up to 6.34% but the Council decided on a smaller burden to ratepayers at the same time sacrificing an essential community service.
This action not only demonstrates contempt towards the fantastic team of over 60 volunteers who provide a range of emergency services contributing over 8,000 hours during the past year. The Council has clearly not considered the consequences and has received a well-deserved backlash from the community.
The CEO of the State Emergency Service has written to the Mayor urging that the decision be reconsidered and representations have been made to the Premier to intervene.
In the meantime SES volunteers anxiously await the arrival of common sense at Towong Shire.