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Community & Business

12 January, 2022

TRC reseal budget blows out

A BUDGET blow-out in Tablelands Regional Council’s reseal program has cost ratepayers an additional $425,000 than expected, raising questions as to why such a variation in costs could have occurred and exposing a “deteriorating” road network.

By Robyn Holmes

Photo | Dreamstime

The original budget for the annual reseal program was set at $1.8 million but due to increased costs associated with the contract and repairs required to the roads before they could be resealed, the price has jumped to $2.225 million. 

Tablelands CEO Gary Rinehart agreed that the increase was a “significant overspend” and assured councillors that learnings from the situation would be applied to future road resealing budgets. 

Acting General Manager Infrastructure and Planning Jon Turner explained some of the issues that led to the budget blowout, citing increased costs for bitumen and additional repair work that had to be done before the roads could be resealed. 

The report to council also revealed that extra volume of bitumen had to be used due to the poor condition of the roads which required asphalt dig-out repairs prior to the resealing, costing nearly an additional $157,000. 

“Increased application rates (of bitumen) resulted in additional costs of $168,629 over those in the original tender,” the report said. 

“The cost increases incurred in completing the 2021/22 resealing program have highlighted the need to understand the municipal sealed road network asset condition.” 

Councillor David Clifton said the issue had confirmed that council had a “more deteriorated road network than we thought”.

“We are clearly battling a large deteriorating road problem with not as much funds as we’d like to have,” he said. 

With the resealing contractor waiting for payment, council officers recommended that the Capital Works Budget be increased at the next budget review to cover the shortfall of $425,000. 

However, Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Cardew was not supportive of the move, saying he was “not entirely satisfied with the explanations” for the overspend. 

“I am not in favour of increasing the capital works budget – the money needs to be found in the current budget,” he said, suggesting the road pavement rehabilitation budget be reduced from $500,000 to $75,000 to accommodate the extra funds required to pay the contractor. 

“Let’s get the funds paid to the contractor now and if we want to put more funds into the pavement rehab fund, we can do that at the Capital Budget review,” Cr Cardew added.

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