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Survey shows more investment needed in rural local roads

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The 2017 local government community satisfaction survey results reinforce that greater Victorian Government support is needed to help councils maintain and upgrade the state’s local road network.

Cr Mary Lalios, MAV President said the survey results showed a correlation between higher performance scores where the State is investing in local infrastructure, and a decline in council performance where State investment has been withdrawn.

“Metropolitan councils scored higher overall in the survey results than rural and regional municipalities. 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,” she said.

Local government maintains 129,735 kilometres of Victoria’s roads, representing 85 per cent of the state’s entire road network, and 10,500 bridges and culverts. A vast majority are found within rural and regional areas, with councils spending around $885 million on local roads and bridges in 2014-15.

Cr Lalios said maintaining the road network was a constant challenge facing councils, with a higher proportion of rural council budgets directed towards road spending rather than core community services.

“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.

"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 per cent 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.”

Meanwhile, Cr Lalios said it was pleasing to see that overall, many of councils’ other core performance measures were stable or had increased by one or two points. High performance areas included:

  • Customer service
  • Arts centres and libraries
  • Appearance of public areas
  • Waste management.

“Victorian councils do their best with limited resources to deliver quality services for their communities,” Cr Lalios said.

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Contact: Cr Mary Lalios on 0447 189 409 or MAV Communications on 9667 5547.