Local Government NSW (LGNSW) says the State Government must keep its promise to take back responsibility for 15,000 kilometres of regional roads from NSW councils, with documents suggesting the transfer may be at risk because of a lack of funding.
LGNSW President Linda Scott said Transport for NSW (TfNSW) asset management papers suggested the government did not have the money to cover the transfer of the roads.
‘These roads represent a massive administrative and financial burden to local councils and is a key component in cost shifting, where State and Federal Government force councils to assume responsibility for infrastructure and services without sufficient funding support,’ Ms Scott said.
‘In 2018/19 alone, around $820 million was cost shifted to NSW councils, part of a burden estimated at $6.2 billion over 10 years.’
Cr Scott said that as recently as January the Government appeared to be progressing its promise with the appointment of an expert panel to begin identifying roads that would be handed back to State Government.
‘But this TfNSW document says it is almost certain the funding is currently not available to transfer ownership of the roads.’
Cr Scott said at this stage there was no confirmation the Government was considering going back on its promise, but the fact it had not yet been budgeted for was disheartening for councils that were battling through an unprecedented series of major disasters.
‘Drought, bushfires and now the impacts of COVID 19 have devastated rural and regional councils across the State,’ she said.
‘It is absolutely vital the NSW Government sticks to this commitment and we will be seeking assurances that they will follow through with their promise.’