When three Northern Tablelands councils received close to a million dollars of drought stimulus funding from the NSW Government on Thursday morning in Armidale, they had few solid ideas of what they would spend the money on.
The $2.7 million worth of funding saw Armidale, Uralla and Gwydir councils receive $900,000 each.
It was announced by the Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall who said very broad criteria were set for councils on what they could spend the money on.
"They can spend it on pretty much anything they want as long as it is about stimulating the local economy," he said.
"If they are undertaking projects that involve construction, they must use local businesses and local tradies.
"They're required to make sure that any benefits from the initiatives that they undertake are outside of the major centres, and also reach and help some of those smaller villages as well."
Mr Marshall said despite the recent good rains this region was still in a quite severe drought.
"Both in terms of on-farm, but also in off-farm, in terms of an economic drought, so programs like this are going to be crucial to keep local businesses open and help them on the way to recovery as quickly as possible."
Armidale Mayor Simon Murray said council had a range of projects put up, but remained somewhat light on details.
"Councillors have also been asked if they want to put some more projects they can think of towards this," he said.
"No decisions have been made made. They are just a range of ideas out there."
Armidale Regional Council's next ordinary monthly meeting is due to be held on Wednesday, February 26. Hopefully, some projects will be trotted out for councillors to debate there, and perhaps council's proposed business hub will be among them.
Chief executive officer Susan Law said council be looking at what would actively support businesses.
"Council will be looking at what initiatives we can pull together off the drawing board to provide some support quickly," she said.
"We are looking at what will provide support for small business directly, and the establishment of the hub ... a place where they can go and have all the services available to them for their business is certainly high on the list."
Uralla Shire Council Mayor Michael Pearce said he would need to workshop ideas about how to best spend the funding. Uralla Shire Council holds its next meeting on Tuesday, February 25.
Gwydir Shire Council Mayor John Coulton said his council would use the funding to employ local people displaced by the drought.
"Gwydir shire has been hit extremely hard by the drought, and we still haven't had any decent rain," he said.
"We introduced this scheme with $400,000 from council money and have 17 people working on a casual basis.
"This $900,000 will enhance the opportunities of the people we employ, hopefully until the end of the financial year."
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