STRONG CASE: Wodonga Council chief executive Patience Harrington is leading the charge for a slice of the $100 million promised by the Andrews Victorian Government.WODONGA Council is lobbying the Victorian Government to unlock a promised $100 million across 10 regional cities in the state.
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The $100 million windfall was promised by the Andrews Labor Government in the lead-up to the 2014 state election, but almost two years later no money has been forthcoming for Wodonga.

Mayor Anna Speedie and chief executive Patience Harrington as recently as a week ago had talks with the government about a share of the promised cash.

Wodonga Council is banking on state and federal funding to help with the $20 million stage one works of the Baranduda Fields sporting complex.

“We’ve been working with the state government for some time,” Ms Harrington said.

“A total of $100 million was promised across 10 cities.

“We are competing with Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo and we are in for a share of that.

“But they didn’t promise every city $10 million and our expectation is to get as much as we can.

“We are absolutely confident Wodongawill get some of that money.

“Butwhat that is remains to be seen.

“It’s about leverage and we’ve got to put ourskin in the game.”

The council has committed $3.1 million to Baranduda Fields in its draft budget released last week.

Stage one worksconsists of two ovals forfootball and cricket, two netball courts and associated amenities and a start on the project comes at a time when existing facilities are bursting at the seams.

The council also has a $10 million funding application for Baranduda Fields sitting with the federal government’s latest National Stronger Regions allocation.

Successful applicants will be announced in July, but they could still be revealed before theelection.

The lobbyingfor state and federal government funding comes at a time when budget documents show Wodonga ranks poorly in terms of recurrent government grant revenue.

Grants totalled $16.6 million in 2015-16 and Wodonga is only ahead of Horsham in a comparison of the 10 major cities in the state.

Geelong leads the way with almost $60 million with Ballarat and Bendigo both above the group average of just under $30 million.

But Geelong has the highest debt level of the 10 major cities ofmore than $60 million with Ballarat and Bendigo having borrowings over $30 million.

Shepparton’s debt is just over $10 million.

Wodonga’s debt will be $25.5 million atend of the financial year with 9.49 cents in every rate dollar collected going towards debt repayment.

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