Funding delay for Roads to Recovery

TASMANIAN councils are expected to spend less this year on roads but only until federal Roads to Recovery funding starts to roll out.

 The corner of Elphin  and Hoblers Bridge roads is in need of maintenance but there is likely to be a funding shortfall this year with money held up in the Senate. Picture: MARK JESSER

The corner of Elphin and Hoblers Bridge roads is in need of maintenance but there is likely to be a funding shortfall this year with money held up in the Senate. Picture: MARK JESSER

According to Local Government Association of Tasmania president Barry Easther, councils are eagerly awaiting a decision from the Senate as to whether the roads program funding was coming.

His comments follow a national media report that councils would cut back on roads spending this financial year.

Cr Easther said the federal roads program funding could see some councils receive double the amount of money they now receive.

‘‘The Roads to Recovery money is held up at the moment in the Senate but it should come through,’’ Cr Easther   said. 

He said reports that councils would cut back on roads funding was true to some extent as the indexation on Federal Assistance Grants was frozen for three years.

However, FAGs funding wasn’t spent entirely on roads and the roads program funding could be a good windfall for some councils, allowing them to tackle the more expensive roads in their areas,  he said.

  Launceston City Council acting general manager Rod Sweetnam said   the loss of indexation would cost about $90,000 this financial year.

‘‘The council has budgeted $5.69 million in the 2014-15 annual budget for roads, footpaths and bridges, in the context of a $26.2 million capital works program,’’ he said.

‘‘The funding for roads, footpaths and bridges is further supplemented by budgeting for maintenance upkeep, and services of road infrastructure including lighting and cleansing.’’

He said while the $90,000 may seem minor in a $90 million budget, it was a hit they had to absorb.

The federal roads program will see $2.1 billion given to councils and state governments for roadworks until 2018-19.

However, according to the Australian Local Government Association, nationally councils look to lose $925 million to 2017-18.

Tasmanian councils receive about $72.3 million in federal grants each year, which  includes $36.9 million for roads. The eight Northern councils share in about $23.7 million.

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