Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson has supported the Local Government Association’s (LGA) call to review current funding formulas for the state’s road network, in order to bring road classifications in line with road use.
LGA has launched its’ Road Infrastructure Platform, calling on whichever major party controls the purse strings after the March state election to sit down with local government and sort out road infrastructure and funding issues.
“Local government needs assistance with road infrastructure, particularly regional councils who typically have a larger number of kilometress of road network to maintain and a lower rateable revenue base in order to collect to assist in the maintenance and construction of roads,” Mr Johnson said.
LGA Acting president Lorraine Rosenberg said local government (council) is currently responsible for management and maintenance of local roads.
“But with shifts in transport routes and increased road traffic, many roads classified as local are in fact now major arterial roads,” she said.
“It is neither fair nor sustainable to expect ratepayers of one council region to carry the financial burden for roads that are carrying substantially more than local traffic.
“Councils across South Australia pay around $350 million each year to maintain the 75,000 kilometres of road infrastructure currently deemed ‘local’.”
Mayor Johnson said there are definitely roads in the Port Augusta area which should be maintained by the South Australian government, but are currently financed by local ratepayers.
“Caroona Road is a good example that has high traffic usage, and also has high usage at times from the Department of Defence, but is a road that council is required to fund maintenance and any potential upgrades,” he said.
“Another example is the heavy vehicle bypass route.
“As soon as the heavy vehicles turn off the main highway - they’re on roads managed by council.
“These roads require a higher standard construction wise and also continual maintenance.”
Mayor Johnson highlighted some figures from the 2011-2012 SA Grants Commission which outlined available revenue within certain council areas.
Port Augusta had roads totalling 409 kms and received $13.4 million in residential rate revenue.
Conversely, Adelaide had roads totalling 127 kms and received a whopping $83.4 million in residential rate revenue.
Mayor Johnson suggested the solution lies in a clearly developed infrastructure fund at a federal level with the sole intention of supporting local/state governments.
“Roads are a vital part of any nation, and particularly ours which is quite vast,” he said.
“I am a big believer in infrastructure, and governments at all levels should always play an active role in continually investing in such, ensuring that we are always upgrading and improving.
“There can not and should not be a ‘one size fits all’ solution.”
The LGA is now calling for the new state government to secure the federal funding that SA communities deserve and need.
To see the LGA State Election Strategy and to view Council messages visit: http://www.lga.sa.gov.au/2014stateelection