Road funding cuts deep

Road funding cuts deep

WALGA president Troy Pickard said local governments were responsible for almost 90 per cent of all roads in the State and councils were struggling to keep up with their maintenance and upgrade.

Mr Pickard said the cuts would have particular impact on small councils in the Wheatbelt.

‘The recent rain in the Wheatbelt has the farming community rejoicing, but when it is time for that wheat to get to port there will be increased pressure on local roads,’ he said.

‘If we want to be a state that supports farmers that use the road network, then there has to be a responsible investment in infrastructure.’

Mr Pickard said the Grants Commission kept comprehensive data on the local road network that had identified a $100 million gap between what the councils spent and what was required to maintain the network in its current condition.

WALGA representatives met new Transport Minister Dean Nalder before the Budget to emphasise the impact on community safety as a result of the proposed cuts.

However, Mr Pickard said the Government had elected to abandon the local roads funding agreement with the councils by cutting $56 million in funding over the next three years.

‘Without adequate road funding from the State Government, councils will have to scale back their works programs, which will affect the standard of roads and community safety,’ Mr Pickard said.

“There is only so much local governments can do to prioritise repairs and maintenance before there starts to be a significant decline in the quality of the network.’

At a WALGA State Council annual regional meeting last Friday, it was unanimously agreed the group hold a Statewide campaign to highlight the Government’s decision.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said the current system was not working fairly enough for ratepayers.

‘If I sit back and do nothing, that will be a failure for me as Minister for local government,’ he said.

‘The ultimate local government has to have a reasonable rate base ” residential, some commercial and shopping centres and also industrial to create a fair and sustainable system.’