By CASEY NEILL
KEYSBOROUGH residents should pay extra rates to meet growing demand for new facilities.
This was the suggestion from Councillor Sean O’Reilly at last week’s council meeting.
He called for a greater focus on developing services within the growing suburb, particularly Keysborough’s south.
“One view that council could take is that these people chose to live in Keysborough, and have paid less to rent or own in Keysborough due to its relatively little infrastructure,” he said.
“This view could be that as these people have chosen to live in Keysborough, they will be content with things as they are.
“However, a more responsible and pro-active view should be taken by council.”
Cr O’Reilly said the council should be delivering community infrastructure in a timely fashion, rather than waiting for deficiencies to arise and then retrospectively filling the gaps.
“One option that could be progressed only after local consultation and agreement by the Keysborough community, is to charge a higher level of rates in Keysborough to fund the catch-up of its local infrastructure,” he said.
He said the council had started planning for a Keysborough South community hub.
“However we need to make sure that funds are prioritised in future budgets,” he said.
“If these infrastructure needs are not met, residents of Keysborough will be largely dependent on cars to access some services, which adds to traffic and parking congestion.”
Cr O’Reilly said the council should acknowledge that new developments in Keysborough offset the need for greater development – with associated traffic and parking issues – in its existing activity centres of Dandenong, Springvale and Noble Park.
He said residents had not yet formed a lobby group to push for new facilities, but the council needed to prepare.
“They will come knocking at our door,” he said.
“Keysborough is the elephant in the room that will need to be addressed.”
Cr Matthew Kirwan, who grew up in Keysborough, said residents in the new Keysborough estates already paid the Keysborough South Maintenance Levy, which he had opposed.
“So it would be unfair to charge them a further rates levy to have the same level of community services and facilities that other people of Greater Dandenong already have,” he said.
Cr Kirwan has also strongly advocated for a Keysborough South community hub.
“That we are now doing the design work is an important step but we need to get on and build it urgently once that design work is complete,” he said.
He said residents in the new estates, particularly Somerfield, were crying out for maternal and child heath facilities, a kindergarten, long day care and occasional care.
He said a neighbourhood house was needed to create “a centre of community life” in the area in the absence of a primary school, which the council continued to advocate to the State Government.
Community services director Mark Doubleday said the council acknowledged Keysborough needed additional facilities and “there are processes in place” to make it happen.