A war of words has erupted following a call from Moe community groups for Latrobe City Council to better advocate for projects in Moe and for the state government to fund key initiatives in the town.
Representing the Committee for Moe and the Moe Traders Association, Sue Abbott called for Latrobe City to address the "serious inequity in funding for the western end of the municipality in their annual budget and their negotiations with other levels of government".
It comes after the release of Latrobe City's draft 2018/19 budget, which is open for public feedback.
Ms Abbott highlighted a number of Moe projects that had not been included in the budget that she said are "well within the capacity of government to fund immediately", including the railway parking/interchange upgrade, the completion of the Moe Activity Centre Plan, the Moe-Newborough netball court relocation and the Lloyd Street/Waterloo Road level crossing upgrade.
The Moe groups provided The Express with a draft list of funding commitments included in council's 2017/18 budget, which indicate the west ward received $3.25 million in project funding, while the east ward received $89.17 million and the central ward received $71.899 million.
However, the vast majority of the projects identified by the group are state government initiatives and council is merely managing the projects.
Some projects have no council involvement at all and are being overseen by other tiers of government.
The group has calculated, suggesting the west ward, which takes in Moe and Newborough, received $195 per person in project funding, while the east and central wards received $3032 and $4676 per person respectively.
Latrobe City Council said it would support the Committee for Moe's advocacy campaign to secure the projects in Moe.
"Council regularly receives requests from the community asking council to advocate for a range of projects, being told that a community will be advocating for itself is fantastic news," council chief executive Gary Van Driel said.
"No one can prosecute an advocacy campaign better than those individuals who have skin in the game, to that end I'd like to congratulate the Committee for Moe for their determination and commitment."
Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing commended the Moe community groups for their advocacy efforts, however said her job was to deliver "as much funding of a general and targeted nature to the region".
"It is not just about addressing transition, but also targeting areas of disadvantage or places which have not received the support and attention they deserve," she said.
"The whole of the Latrobe Valley needs ongoing engagement funding and assistance as part of a long-term transition and development."
She also identified a range of Moe projects which received funding from various state government departments, including projects that were not tied to transition funds.
"This includes things like the new team of paramedics, the ambulance station, assistance with the Baringa school upgrade, pavilion upgrades and the new school buildings at Moe South Street Primary School, the Moe Sports Stadium extension and Ted Summerton Reserve, the Moe SES equipment upgrade, assistance to Moe Racing Club for the Moe Cup, Lowanna College upgrades," she said.
Ms Shing said she was working closely with the Moe fire brigade regarding new facilities and career staff, had met with the netball association to discuss facility upgrades and that the Lloyd Street/Waterlood Road level crossing upgrade was being considered as part of a works program.
Latrobe Valley Authority chief executive Karen Cain said the LVA had recently been in contact with the Committee for Moe and are committed to discussing the issue with the committee and Latrobe City Council.
"Whilst we fund some activities directly, our role is also to advocate through government for other projects that are important," Ms Cain said.
The Committee for Moe and Moe Traders Association encouraged community members to have their say on council's draft budget while it is open for public feedback.
Latrobe City Council will host a community information session regarding the budget at the Morwell headquarters on April 16 from 5.30pm until 7pm and a special council meeting will be held on May 15 for the hearing of public submissions and the opportunity for submitters to address council.