Road networks need state help
Victoria’s municipal peak body believes 2017 local government community satisfaction survey results reinforce a need for greater State Government support to help councils maintain and upgrade road networks.
Municipal Association of Victoria president Mary Lalios said survey results showed a correlation between high-performance scores where the state was investing in municipal infrastructure.
The results also showed a decline in council performance scores where the state had withdrawn investment.
“Metropolitan councils scored higher overall in the survey results than rural and regional municipalities,” Cr Lalios said.
“In particular, interface councils have received higher overall performance scores from residents, buoyed by strong state investment in local community infrastructure needed in growth areas.
“However, state funding for rural local roads concluded in 2015, along with a dedicated state funding program for rural and regional community infrastructure.
“This loss of $360-million over four years has been a devastating blow to rural and regional communities.”
Local government maintains 129,735 kilometres of Victoria’s roads, representing 85 percent of the state’s road network, and 10,500 bridges and culverts.
Majority are in rural and regional areas, with councils spending about $885-million on roads and bridges in 2014-15.
Cr Lalios said maintaining road networks was a constant challenge facing councils.
“It’s a massive funding obligation that is simply beyond the means of many rural shires given their small ratepayer base, declining populations and lengthy road network,” she said.
“Rural councils lack the capacity to invest more revenue into closing the asset renewal gap, which means their local roads are declining faster than they can be maintained or upgraded.
“Without addressing the backlog in road maintenance, there could be serious consequences for future road safety and Victoria’s economic competitiveness.
“Ten percent of the Port of Melbourne lease – worth $970-million – was committed by the state for reinvestment back into rural and regional Victoria.
“We renew our calls for the government to allocate funding from this commitment to rural local roads.”