This would ‘seal a road to ruin’ - mayor
TIPPING in a huge bucket of money to pave the remaining 200 kilometres of unsealed roads in Noosa would drive the council into bankruptcy.
That is the response by Mayor Tony Wellington to hinterland-based council candidate Karen Finzel’s attack on the current administration for neglecting the hinterland.
Ms Finzel said the mayor had conceded that 65 per cent of the shire’s roads are in the hinterland, but had offered no explanation of why the council has no program to seal the area’s 200km of unsafe gravel roads.
“The council really has a lot to answer for in its neglect of this basic infrastructure,” she said. “It’s only a couple of years ago that substantial funds allocated to hinterland roads were diverted to a road in Noosaville,” she said.
The mayor said: “The council would be broke if we were to seal all 200 kilometres of dirt roads in the shire.
“That would cost upward of $200 million, many times our annual capital budget. Meanwhile we have to maintain, and replace when necessary, the 650 kilometres of bitumen roads. “Council has an established set of criteria for prioritising the sealing of gravel roads, and those priorities get woven into our future capital works.
“It is plainly absurd to suggest that Noosa Council is ’neglecting basic infrastructure’ because, like every other council with rural areas, we have some dirt roads.”
He said the assertion that “substantial funds allocated to hinterland roads were diverted to a road in Noosaville” was “just plain wrong”.
“It never happened,” the mayor said.
The council contender and the mayor have also clashed over the priority of the hinterland council works and services under a Wellington council, a possible return to rule by council divisions, and the amount of dollars being spent on one project – the Cooroy adventure playground.
“Nearly half of the shire’s population is in the hinterland, and the number of dollars that go to the hinterland compared with the coastal region,” Ms Finzel said.
“Cr Wellington quoted per capita numbers, was misleading on the children’s playground extravagance and attacked my suggestion that council divisions should be a subject of community debate.
Ms Finzel said the mayor could have asked the state government to better apportion the $2.8 million in funds it is providing for the Cooroy children’s playground.
“These state funds plus the council money could have been spread over three projects in the hinterland and done much more good for the community,” she said.
“Why shouldn’t the community have a chance to discuss whether it wants to have divisions or not?”
“Cr Wellington said he could put his hand an on his heart and say that a non-divisional system provides the best results for residents.
“Well I’ll put my vote where my mouth is and, if elected to council, give residents a say on this matter.”
Cr Wellington said Ms Finzel argued that nearly half the shire’s population is in the hinterland.
“In fact the figure is 40 per cent, not half. If she is working from the state’s figures, she should note that those numbers include areas not actually in the shire,” he said.
“The suggestion that we could have asked the state to better apportion the grant funds for the hinterland nature-based playground is again absurd.
“The funding was for a specific project. We didn’t – and indeed we can’t – ask for a bucket of money to be applied anywhere we want.”
The mayor said the hinterland adventure park project includes significant additional parking for Cooroy as well as new toilet facilities.
“This park is designed to be a magnificent, bespoke facility unlike that available anywhere,” he said.