Floods damage council coffers
GYMPIE region residents forced to disregard their overgrown roadsides and shabby neighbourhood parks can thank last year's floods and the hole they have gouged in Gympie Regional Council coffers.
The council's $4.4 million road maintenance budget has had to bear the full burden of funding the "unbudgeted costs" of road damage caused by last January's floodwaters.
Works manager Gary Ingham told the council yesterday that roadside drainage works in conjunction with flood recovery and stabilisation were "considered to be a maintenance activity" and therefore did not attract flood recovery financial assistance. So the money had to come out of the road maintenance budget.
By January this year, the repairs had helped chew through $2.7 million of the $4.4 million budget. This was "$174,000 over forecast of which approximately 96% can be directly attributed to flood recovery", Mr Ingham said.
Decisions had to be made on how to avoid a budget blowout. One of those decisions was to reduce cutting of roadside vegetation by 60%.
And it worked, even if not everyone is impressed.
Since the cutback was implemented, "expenditure has aligned more closely with forecast expenditure", a result that drew praise from finance committee chairwoman Donna Neilson.
"If we have to put up with some long grass in parks and on the side of the road for a short period of time that's a small price to pay," she said.
Mr Ingham said no safety issues had been compromised by the decision to decrease mowing, only aesthetic issues.
Cr Graham Engeman said discussions were needed on how to spread future flood repair costs over the whole council, not one department.