A $5 million upgrade of the Wombeyan Caves Road over and above bushfire repairs will get underway this financial year as part of a council budget.
Upper Lachlan Shire Council adopted its operational and delivery plan at the most recent meeting. It includes a $20.8 million capital works program in 2020/21 and $55.6m over the next four years.
The budget has produced a modest $414,768 operating surplus and a total net cash flow deficit of $2.362m, with large transfers from reserves needed to help fund "extensive capital works."
"These are uncertain times we are navigating through," Mayor John Stafford said.
"The Plan was prepared against the backdrop of events like the February, 2020 storm damage natural disaster declaration, Green Wattle Creek bushfire natural disaster declaration in the Wombeyan Caves and Taralga areas, and then the COVID-19 pandemic issue, so we are conscious of the fact that it may be necessary for the budget to be further reviewed and refined as the effects of the pandemic are felt within our communities."
A total $5m will be spent upgrading Wombeyan Caves Road over five years. Some $3m of that is allocated in 2020/21. Finance and administration director Andrew Croke said the council was contributing $100,000 and the state and federal governments - the remainder.
It will involve sealing several kilometres at the Taralga end and widening the road.
A host of other roads and bridges will also receive a funding slice.
- Replacement of Kangaroo Creek bridge at Bigga - $1.93m (50pc fedral funding);
- Peelwood Creek on Peelwood Road timber bridge replacement - $1.44m;
- Cooksvale Road on Peelwood Creek timber bridge replacement - $950,000;
- Grabine Road reconstruction (total project $3.5m over 2 years) - $2.8m;
- MR248E Laggan Road rehabilitation and resealing - $745,000;
- Gravel re-sheeting on local roads - $854,110;
The council will raise $1.681m in loans in 2020/21 for 100pc cost of the Cooksvale Road Bridge's replacement and half the cost of the Peelwood Creek structure.
Other big ticket items are also on the agenda. Gunning showground will receive a new amenities block for $672,747, while $150,000 is allocated for streetscape improvements in towns and villages.
The Crookwell waste transfer station will be upgraded at a cost of $375,000. In addition, a host of water supply and sewerage infrastructure projects are included.
Meantime, the council will raise an extra $192,000 in rates in 2020/21, thanks to a state government peg of 2.6pc.
Cr Stafford said while people had raised concerns about the rise in rural rates flowing from land valuations, the council had to maintain an extensive road network.
"There are 1,184km of unsealed roads alone in the Upper Lachlan," he stated in his mayoral column.
"Roads and bridges are a major area of expenditure. But even if 100pc of rates was spent on roads for the next 10 years, ignoring waste, and water and all the other tasks, and even if you were able to divert all grants and funding received towards roads, it still wouldn't seal and repair all of our roads. If you were able to double that amount, it still wouldn't get the job done."
Also in this year's budget:
- Sewerage access and usage charges rise 2pc;
- Water access and usage rise 3.5pc;
- Stormwater charges remain unchanged;
- Domestic, commercial and rural waste charges increase by 4pc.
Did you know the Southern Highland News is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.