Budget drives shire forward

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Highlands ratepayers will benefit from one of council’s biggest infrastructure programs yet, locked in after draft documents were adopted at the June 14 meeting.

The documents detail how a 45.3 per cent rate increase over four years, a Special Rate Variation (SRV) approved by IPART in May 2016, will be used to improve infrastructure across the region.

A total of $1.3 million has been allocated for works on Old South Road. Photo: SHN

A total of $1.3 million has been allocated for works on Old South Road. Photo: SHN

The clear winner is roads, with more than $16 million to be spent on improvements and upgrades in the 2017/18 financial year.

These include the Berrima Road Deviation Project at a total of $8.2 million, one-kilometre stretch of Wilson Drive between Colo Vale and Hill Top to receive $1.2 million of improvements and Old South Road to be upgraded between Bowral and Merrigang Streets for $1.3 million.

The decision to adopt the documents, voted on unanimously by councillors, also included the adoption of a 9.25 per cent rate increase for the 2017/18 financial year in accordance with the SRV increase.

Council general manager Ann Prendergast said the adoption of the documents laid a solid platform for council, in conjunction with our community and other agencies, to deliver on a host of agreed priorities.

“This announcement effectively provides the green light for Council to embark on a $187 million infrastructure renewal and improvement program over the next four years,” she said.

As part of the program $95 million will be directed to water and sewer infrastructure improvements, including $48 million towards the upgrading of Bowral and Moss Vale Sewage Treatment plants. $46 million will be allocated towards roads, bridges and footpaths. A further $17.1 million will be spent on community buildings and recreation areas while $12.6 million has been set aside for stormwater drainage.

The adoption of draft integrated planning and reporting documents at council means big infrastructure improvements for the shire. Photo: SHN

The adoption of draft integrated planning and reporting documents at council means big infrastructure improvements for the shire. Photo: SHN

Several road renewal projects will also provide improvements to sections of Throsby Street in Moss Vale, Exeter Road between Sutton Forest and Exeter, Merrigang Street in Bowral and Church Street in Burrawang.

“It will be without doubt one of the largest infrastructure renewal and improvement programs our shire has ever seen.”

The documents also included a revised community strategic plan – which outlines key priorities for the shire, as expressed by Highlanders.

Ms Prendergast said seven “strategic priorities” would drive council’s decisions, works and programs during the next four years.

The key priorities, which include responsible financial management, infrastructure delivery and improved services, were developed based on insight gleaned from community interaction.

Other priorities include improving community assets, protecting the natural environment, business transformation and community wellbeing.

“These priorities emerged from a series of discussions we had with hundreds of local residents through workshops, surveys and meetings,” Ms Prendergast said.

2017/18 KEY PROJECTS - OVERVIEW

Council’s capital works program for 2017/18 will fund several key infrastructure projects including $1 million on rectification works to Mittagong Pool, and $3 million to refurbish council’s Civic Centre at Moss Vale.

Berrima Road Deviation Project: $8.2 million

The Berrima Road Deviation project accounts for $8.2 million and is designed to improve traffic access along Berrima Road between Moss Vale, the enterprise corridor and the Hume Highway via Taylor Avenue.

The most costly element of the project is the construction of a new rail overbridge at the Boral cement works rail line. Earthworks for the project will begin this month, and roadworks are estimated for completion in 2018.

Old South Road: $1.3 million

Bowral road users will benefit from $1.3 million allocated to upgrade a 530m stretch of Old South Road between Bowral and Merrigang Street.

The project includes widening with formalised parking lanes, shoulders and kerb and guttering where required. Currently in the design process, the project is expected to begin later this year.

Wilson Drive: $1.2 million

About 1km of Wilson Drive between Colo Vale and Hill Top will be improved by $1.2 million worth of works.

A council spokesman said works would be concentrated on the “least favourable” sections of the road, with northern village residents to benefit from improved safety when travelling along Wilson Drive. Project completion is estimated for July 2018, with works to start this year.

Church Street: $630,000

A 500-metre section of Church Street, from the Illawarra Highway towards Burrawang, has been allocated $630,000 in rehabilitation works. Asphalt will be provided at the intersection to increase skid resistance, with construction expected to start this year and be completed in 2018.