Funding cuts put us on road to ruin

June 29, 2017

A Victorian survey has shown that more state funding support is needed for councils to lift community satisfaction with roads in rural municipalities,

RESULTS from the Victorian Government’s 2017 Community Satisfaction Survey have reinforced the need for more financial support for councils to maintain and upgrade local roads.

The state results released last week show community satisfaction with both sealed and unsealed local roads in large rural councils, such as Mitchell Shire, had decreased.

Mitchell Shire mayor Rhonda Sanderson supported the Municipal Association of Victoria’s position that there was a correlation between funding cuts to local roads and satisfaction among the community.

In 2015, the Victorian Government stopped the Country Roads and Bridges Initiative, which provided $1 million per year to Mitchell Shire, or the equivalent of a three per cent rate rise.

“While most other indicators across the large rural grouping improved, there is a clear drop in satisfaction with roads from 2016, and Mitchell is no exception,” Cr Sanderson said.

“Maintaining local road networks is a major challenge for councils, especially large rural and interface councils that lack the capacity to invest money and close the asset renewal gap. This means our local roads are declining faster than they can be maintained or upgraded.”

Cr Sanderson said the 2017/18 draft budget showed that although ratepayers’ contribution to the road network had increased, overall road spending had decreased due to a drop in grant funding.

“We know roads and road safety are high priorities for our community, but the reality is we can’t do it alone,” she said.

“We need funding from other sources such as state and federal governments and these survey results clearly highlight that need across the large rural council group. We will continue to advocate for these funds on behalf of our community.”

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