RESIDENTS RAGE: Residents of Lismore are demanding council repair flood damaged roads without resorting to a Special Rate Variation which they say will hurt people who already cash-strapped.
RESIDENTS RAGE: Residents of Lismore are demanding council repair flood damaged roads without resorting to a Special Rate Variation which they say will hurt people who already cash-strapped. Contributed Lismore City Council

'It's a disgrace': Lismore MP slams councillors over roads

RESIDENTS have responded angrily to the news Lismore Council could not reach a decision at Tuesday night's meeting regarding calling for a Special Rate Variation to raise the $3million needed to fix the road repair backlog.

This means a formal community consultation which is estimated to coast around $150,000 regarding the $3million special rate variation which is currently part of The Imagine Lismore Community Strategic Plan 2017-2027, will go ahead in the next financial year.

While $3 million sounds like a lot of tar, it's a drop in the ocean.

In September 2017 the NRMA announced the region had a road repair backlog of $430 million.

This comprised a massive 22 per cent, nearly on-quarter of the state's accumulation of roads waiting repair..

While the region's backlog did fall 11.1 per cent on 2014-15 figures, it still means a significant shot in the arm was needed with Lismore Council requiring $79.27m to fix all the outstanding roads.

It's a lot of hot mix compared with Clarence Valley at $43.68m, Kyogle at $32.95m and Byron at $32.37m, to get the roads into a satisfactory state.

According to our Federal and State members, they have done all they can to help Lismore fix its rapidly deteriorating road system.

State member, Thomas George Lismore City Council needs to take responsibility of its own budget.

"It is a disgrace that Lismore City councillors want to blame cost shifting for the lack of management towards road maintenance," he said.

"Councillors set the budget and therefore have the responsibility of prioritising where money is spent."

He said Lismore receives its funding based on the same ratio given to all councils across the state.

"Following the March 2017 flood event, Lismore City Council received funding to specifically assist with fixing the road infrastructure following a natural disaster (and) council still has not exhausted this funding," he said.

"Lismore City Council has received nearly $2million in the past financial year from the NSW Government Regional Roads Block Funding Program (and) this excludes extensive funding provided by the Federal Government."

Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, said the Federal Government more than tripled the money it gives to local councils for a two-year period to help them with their road backlogs.

"This money comes from the Roads to Recovery program," he said.

"In 2013/14 Lismore received, $913,484, in 2014/15 $2,521,446 and in 2015/16 $2,911,850."

Mr Hogan said federal funding had almost tripled the money to fix black-spots, with Lismore City Council receiving more than $3.2million over recent years.

"This included funding for roundabouts at the intersections of Fisher and Pleasant Streets, and Union and Casino Streets, as well as work on Magellan Street and Rous Rd (and) on top of this, we have also just given council a one-off $1 million grant for sealing works on Conway St, Wyrallah Rd and Broadwater Rd."

Mr Hogan said as a separate issue, the Federal and State governments have given nearly $100 million to Councils in the region to help repair from flood damage and much of this has gone to roads.

But do residents need to cop the SRV in order to combat the region's deteriorating road network and suffer longer travel times, unsafe roads and lost economic productivity?

A resounding no, appears to be answer.

Meanwhile, Cr Gianpiero Battista said tough times call for tough decisions and Council needed to look if it really needed to maintain its current staffing level.

"Drastic problems require drastic solutions," he said.

"We have to look at where we need to cut non-core business or services, it's a Catch-22, we can't keep asking people t fork out more money.



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