20 May 2020
Dear Rural Landholders
I want to assure you the Balonne Shire Council understands the current level of frustration landholders are feeling over the poor condition of many of our rural roads.
First, the inability to source water during the drought impacted the road maintenance program, only to be followed by flood damage in February and March.
We now have water but need State Government funding to begin a comprehensive road repair program.
Council successfully applied to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) to categorise the rain and flooding event as a natural disaster, creating the opportunity to bring new money into the shire for road repair.
Under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), Council is seeking tens-of-millions of dollars. Council is working with QRA to expedite the complex application process with approval now expected mid-July.
Council has to secure funding approval before restoration works begin. If we prematurely push ahead, we run the risk of some roads being ineligible making Council liable for the cost. We cannot risk placing that type of financial burden on our ratepayers.
As an agricultural shire, our rural roads are our top priority. That’s why we’re focused on trying to minimise ratepayer expenditure and access as much external funding as possible for the repair work.
Council is continually trying to access grant funding to maximise returns for our ratepayers.
Grants come in different buckets, with different requirements, which means ratepayers can sometimes see expenditure on areas they don’t feel are a priority.
Council spends more money on roads than anything else. The shire has 3019 kilometres of roads which is equivalent to driving from St George to Darwin. So, sharing our limited resources across such a road network can be challenging.
When COVID-19 restrictions ease further, Council will hold community catch-ups on roads to ensure all concerns are heard, including road grading schedules and asset management plans.
We want to encourage an open, honest and transparent dialogue so we can resolve the current issues as efficiently and equitably as possible.
Thank you for bearing with us while we go through the necessary procedures. I apologise for any inconvenience you are experiencing. Please know we are doing everything we can to fast-track our road repair program.