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Council budgets for road maintenance in Victoria and NSW eroded by wet weather damage

Councils across Victoria and New South Wales say the cost of dealing with road repairs during persistent wet weather is wreaking havoc on local budgets.

Communities across both states are already feeling the impacts of recent wet weather, with flooding occurring in a number of areas, and water storages spilling for the first time in years.

The Bureau of Meteorology declared a third La Niña weather event in a row last month, while its most recent climate summary stated that October to December rainfall was likely to be above median for the eastern half of Australia.

Towong Shire Council Mayor Andrew Whitehead said there were already significant costs in dealing with the local road network in Victoria’s north-east.

“It’s probably somewhere in the vicinity of $4 million a year we have allocated to road maintenance,” he said.

“In a wet year like that, will it be enough? Probably not, but we know we just have to do the best we can with what we’ve got.

“Otherwise, we have to start thinking about allocating money out of other budgets, which is never popular.”

Funds reallocated

One local government that has already had to move funds about for road repair is Yarriambiack Shire Council in Victoria’s west.

Mayor Kylie Zanker says money has been reallocated to fix damaged roads.(Supplied)

The council this week agreed to reallocate $417,000 from its capital works program to seven dirt and bitumen roads that had either deteriorated or become unsafe due to recent downpours.

The funds were initially set aside to upgrade nine rural roads in the area.

Mayor Kylie Zanker said those roads would still be safe to drive on.

“Unfortunately for those people who have been really excited about their road being done, it will be happening, we just needed to defer it to fit other roads in,” she said.

“The next budget period is what we are looking at.”

Significant costs in NSW

Across the border in New South Wales, Federation Council Mayor Patrick Bourke said three years of above average rainfall had taken a big toll on their road systems.

They said the cost of dealing with the issue was massive.

A regional road covered with water
Flooding recently inundated Federation Way, south of Urana, in New South Wales.(Facebook: Federation Council)

“As a council at the moment, we’re taking about $9 million in rates and we’re spending about $8 million on roads,” Cr Bourke said.

“We heavily rely on grants and government assistance to keep our roads in a reasonable condition.”

Cr Bourke said the council was also applying for a special rate variation to help deal with road repair challenges over the coming years.

“We believe we’ve got a shortfall of about $4 million that should be going in extra to our roads every year,” he said.

Calls to reinstate road program

Cr Whitehead said he wanted to see the Victorian government reinstate the Fixing Country Roads program to help councils deal with the costs of road maintenance.


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