Shire forced to tighten belt as road funds cut

Michael Sinclair-Jones

TOODYAY will lose tens of thousands of dollars in roadworks money this year under a $10 million cut in State road funding. 
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the cuts were needed after a State Government bid to scrap local government concessions worth $10 million on motor vehicle licences was blocked in Parliament by Opposition parties last month. 

Ms Saffioti said local government councils that had budgeted to pay for motor vehicle licences this year would now be expected to spend that money on roads instead. 

Toodyay Shire President David Dow said the cut came as no surprise. 

“It reduces our road funding by $53,685,” he said.  

“Our draft budget has been framed in the knowledge that funding from the State Government will be constrained by their need to reduce inherited debt.

“As our budget has not been finalised we will make whatever adjustments are necessary to accommodate the reduction in funding for roads.

“This may mean we reduce our road program accordingly or more likely apply council funds to the shortfall and reduce our proposed small budget surplus to a waferthin surplus.

“We must hope there are no budget shocks, no further reductions in State funding and no significant contingencies in the next year.”

Local WA Nationals MP Shane Love said direct road grants to local government councils had been slashed by 42 per cent.

“The McGowan Government has once again shown its contempt for regional WA by making short-sighted and damaging cuts to vital road infrastructure funding,” he said.

“Local governments will either have to increase rates or reduce their road maintenance programs.”
Mr Love repeated his party’s call for a 20-fold increase in the State’s decades-old 25c a tonne fee charged to major iron ore miners BHP and Rio Tinto to enable the WA Government to reduce State debt and help fund vital WA infrastructure projects.
Meanwhile, Main Roads WA says it will start geotechnical studies on Toodyay Road between the townsite and Dryandra Road to “identify material for potential road construction”.
Excavators, backhoes, hard rock drills and dozers will be used to excavate and sample underlying rock and soil for testing,” a Main Roads WA spokesperson said.
The agency is currently seeking State Government funds to upgrade a 35km stretch between Toodyay and Dryandra Road.

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