Jail buster for Junee Council

JUNEE Council is facing bankruptcy due to a funding shortfall with the town’s planned prison expansion. 

Ratepayers will be forced to foot a $7.2 million bill to complete the Junee Correctional Centre’s sewerage upgrades after Cootamundra MP Katrina Hodgkinson revealed the council’s bid for a $3.5 million state government lifeline will likely be refused.

Mayor Neil Smith claims the cash-strapped council will be rendered insolvent if the NSW Government fails to intervene.

“If we don't get $3.5 million dollars, we'll be broke,” he told The Daily Advertiser.

“I suppose conceivably we could take out the $7.2 million as a loan, but that would be an extremely costly exercise for ratepayers.”

“It’s very sad.

“Through no wrongdoing of ours we've now been put on financial watch with the Office of Local Government.”

Junee Council general manager James Davis last week requested $3.5 million from Minister Niall Blair in a last-ditch bid for assistance.

Ms Hodgkinson now believes it may be too late.

“I got a letter from them last Monday and immediately forwarded it to Minister Blair, but I think it’s too late for this budget,” she said.

“They (council) proposed to meet the $8.8 million required for the project by saving money in other areas.”

An “unrealistic time frame” and “high expectations” have also been blamed for Junee Council’s financial duress.

Former Liberal senator Bill Heffernan claims the town is being cheated in a “disgusting” way.

“We’re providing a service and a courtesy to the government to have a jail out here and this is the disgusting treatment we receive,” Mr Heffernan, a Junee farmer, said. 

“The ratepayers of Junee are going to be cheated by the NSW government. 

“They can provide hundreds of millions for football stadiums, the least they could do is fund the sewerage upgrades.”

The expansion will see the addition of 480 beds, increasing the prison’s population from 875 to 1355.