Eyre Peninsula councils call for road funding extension

Local councils could face the choice of rate increases or a downgrade in road maintenance if the federal government’s Supplementary Road Funding is not extended past the 2018/19 financial year.

The government announced in 2017 $20 million would be provided to South Australian councils in each of the 2017/18 and 2018/19 budgets to maintain the state’s road network.

However the Local Government Association of South Australia is calling on the funding to be extended past the June 30 deadline so councils would not be left with a $20 million gap in road funding.

LGASA president and Tumby Bay mayor Sam Telfer said it would lobby both sides of federal parliament to ensure the funding would continue.

He said per capita South Australia was significantly below other states when it came to Commonwealth funding for roads and if the supplementary funding was lost, regional councils would feel the effects.

“Every council, especially on Eyre Peninsula would be impacted if this funding was discontinued,” he said.

Kimba District Council chief executive officer Deb Larwood said the district currently receives just over $150,000 in supplementary road funding, which would amount to a 10% increase for ratepayers should it not be included in the federal budget this year.

She said passing on the cost to ratepayers would be necessary to maintain the roads at their current level and avoid safety issues. 

Kimba Mayor Dean Johnson said the supplementary funding was the best way to ensure South Australian roads were adequately funded and he was pleased the LGASA was making it a priority.

He said the uncertainty surrounding the renewal of the funding was "something that keeps us up at night," and there had been no communication so from the government about their plans.

Ms Larwood said the council was in the process of planning their 2019-2020 budget, and the uncertainty was having an impact on their efficiency.

"It's hard to do when you've got an unknown of $150,000," she said.

She said the council has effectively needed to draft two budgets, "one with, one without."