FINANCIAL LOAD: Bellingen Shire Council is talking to the RMS about the costs of taking over the old Pacific Highway.In a bidto head off what could be a one-way ride downhill financially for local councils, last week Bellingen Council’s general manager Liz Jeremy and Nambucca’s Mayor Rhonda Hobanheld discussions with the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS)regarding the transfer of assets to thecouncils, namely the old Pacific Highway, following the opening of the new road.
Ms Jeremy said the discussions gave both councils an opportunity to explain their concerns regarding the handover of these assets and the RMS an insight intothe financial implications that came along with it.
“Agreement was reached to explore intergovernmental policy positions and the need to further investigate the full cost of the asset transfers over the long term, especially for the bridges,” Ms Jeremy said.
“In this context, the council has already written to the RMS following a resolution by the elected council indicating that it does not wish to accept the Kalang River Bridge asset which is valued at approximately $12 million.”
She said the council appreciated the opportunity for the meeting and the commitment given to both the discussions and future processes leading to outcomes as yet unformulated nor discussed in detail.
For its part RMS responded it was committed to working closely with Bellingen and Nambucca Shire Councils “to find an agreeable solution on the transfer of Pacific Highway assets and particularly the Kalang River Bridge”.
A spokeswoman said the meeting was productive and RMS wouldcontinue to work with the councils during the coming months.
Nambucca Mayor Rhonda Hoban said she was grateful for the meeting and the chance to discuss the reality of the financial situation, which sees councils on the one hand forced to prove their financial sustainability to the State Government, yet being handed the maintenance and replacement responsibility for over $254 million worth of assets (in the case of Nambucca Shire).
“As a low socio-economic community, it would certainly be a burden inperpetuity to ratepayers.I believe the RMS is committed to considering possible solutions we proposed,” Ms Hoban said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.