Budget includes significant flood repair investment

RICHMOND Valley Council’s 2022-2023 Budget includes a significant $50,611,790 capital works program to help the community recover from the devastating February-March flood events.

A further $24,120,310 has been earmarked for 2023-2024 projects.

The Budget also shows surplus budgets for all four years of the delivery program, including $257,786 in 2022-2023.

Following the floods, Council implemented a modified Integrating Planning and Reporting Program, which saw the Rebuilding the Richmond Valley Recovery Plan being adopted at Tuesday night’s Council meeting as the 2022-2023 Delivery Program, supported by the 2022-2023 Operational Plan.

Council will be implementing a new Community Strategic Plan in 2023.

General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the Recovery Plan set out Council’s vision to help restore the Richmond Valley over the next three years, in partnership with the community, disaster support agencies and State and Federal governments.

Mr Macdonald said it would be of little surprise to residents and ratepayers that this year’s budget had been a challenging one to construct.

“Putting together the budget is never an easy task and this year was no different,” Mr Macdonald said.

“As a Council, we must find a way to balance our visions with the financial resources available, while taking into account the needs of our communities.

“Council has a good working relationship with its communities, and has been diligent in listening to community and business needs and aspirations.”

Mr Macdonald said the Richmond Valley’s 1175km road network was severely damaged by flooding and it would take at least three years to repair all the damage.

He said Council was assessing the full extent of the repairs required and expected further damage would emerge in the post-flood period as saturated pavements began to fail.

“At present, the estimated repair bill stands at $100 million, not including the cost of repairing major landslips in North Casino,” Mr Macdonald said.

“Council will continue restoration works from the flooding and replace infrastructure, such as bitumen reseals, gravel re-sheeting and key drainage infrastructure right across the Valley.”

Key roads include: Bentley Road, Bungawalbin-Whiporie Road, Naughtons Gap Road, Rappville Road, Upper Cherry Tree Road, Woodburn-Coraki Road and Woodburn-Evans Head Road.

Other priority actions for our flood-affected communities include: simplify and fast-track approvals for rebuild and restoration works; advocate for temporary housing; repairs to community facilities, as well as repairs to sewage pump stations and treatment plants.

Mr Macdonald said Council would conduct a six-monthly review on progress throughout the life of the Recovery Plan and the community would receive regular updates through community newsletters, social media and Council’s website.

The 2022-2023 Budget also includes some increases to rates and annual charges:

• General rates to increase by 5.50 percent consistent with the approved special rate variation. From 2023-2024 onwards, a rate peg of 2.5% has been assumed, in line with TCorp benchmarks.
• Domestic waste charge to increase by 3.23 percent.
• Non-domestic waste charge to increase by 4.58 percent.
• Annual water charges to increase by 5 percent.
• Annual sewerage charges to increase by 3.2 percent.
• NRLX Agents Business Usage Fee – Bull & Stud Sales 0.30 percent of sales revenue.

Mr Macdonald said Council had invested significant funds into upgrading the NRLX over recent years, resulting in major improvements to the health and safety of workers and cattle – and an increase in cattle sales.

However, he said increasing operational expenses affected the return Council received on its investment, making it necessary to review the fee structure at the NRLX to address this disparity.

“Although cattle prices and revenues have increased significantly, the proportion of revenue Council receives from NRLX sales, and bull and stud sales in particular, has not kept pace with this growth,” Mr Macdonald said.

“Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed the advertised fee structure for 2022-2023 be adopted, to ensure the community continues to receive a return on its investment.

“Agents in particular have been doing very well and it’s timely their fees move to being more reflective of the benefits they reap from operating at such a high-quality facility.”

Copies of the documents can be viewed and downloaded from Council’s website at www.richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au

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