MAINTAINING Mortlake's avenue of honour is costing ratepayers thousands, while Moyne Shire is forced to complete further reports on the trees' replacement.
Council chief executive Bill Millard said more than $80,000 was spent last financial year maintaining the avenue's monterey cypress trees and attending to broken limbs and fallen branches.
The council flagged plans to replace the trees in 2015, but debate over the type of tree to replace the avenue caused delays, while Heritage Victoria granted approval for 21 of the 191 trees to be removed in 2017.
The council last year engaged an aborist to prepare a report that recommended four species of trees for the avenue, but Heritage Victoria has now asked the council to do an impact assessment taking into account the avenue's aesthetic and heritage values.
Mr Millard said the council would complete the report in July 2020.
We are spending money treading water.Cr Jill Parker
Council physical services director Trev Greenberger told a Moyne Shire Council meeting that delays could be ongoing.
"Now Heritage Victoria are asking us for a further assessment of the landscape and cultural impacts of the options put forward by the arborist," he said.
"That is the next step, how long that takes, and whether they accept the recommendations of that report, who knows."
Councillor Jill Parker said the hold up was "very frustrating".
"We are spending money treading water," Cr Parker said. "That money could be going towards new trees."
"It will be done over stages, and there will be a considerable period of time where the avenue won't be the uniform avenue you see now.
"But they don't live forever and we have to think about the trees that definitely need to be replaced."
A Heritage Victoria spokesman said the avenue was "an important historic landmark".
"We're committed to working with council as they plan for and undertake conservation works to the trees that are unfortunately being impacted by disease," he said.
The avenue is a rare example of avenue memorial planting that commemorated individual sacrifice during both world wars.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.