Northern Rivers infrastructure backlog among biggest in NSW
NORTHERN Rivers councils would need to increase rates by 15% every year for a decade to fund their combined infrastructure backlog bill, which totals an estimated $811 million, a new report states.
Released yesterday by Local Government Minister Don Page, the Local Government Infrastructure Audit showed the Northern Rivers region, in raw dollar terms, topping every other region in the state for its infrastructure backlog.
It came fifth highest among the state's 18 regions when the backlog was calculated per head of population.
Roads and footpaths accounted for the vast majority of the estimated backlog - at $654 million - with the report highlighting the region's wet weather and large tourist numbers as two unfunded impacts on roads.
But Mr Page said ratepayers were unlikely to see massive rate hikes - despite recent recommendations from the Independent Local Government Review Panel to allow some flexibility in rate pegging.
"There will always have to be some cost recovery from ratepayers (but) there will also need to be assistance from other levels of government," Mr Page said.
Mr Page said one option for councils was to take advantage of the NSW Government $100 million infrastructure loans interest subsidy scheme, which aimed to help fund $1billion worth of roads, sewers and buildings.
He said the infrastructure situation was a result of the general weak financial position of NSW councils.