Counting the cost of storm damage
A preliminary report detailing damage to public infrastructure from the weekend storm of June 4 was presented to Wingecarribee Shire Councillors at last week’s Ordinary Meeting of Council.
Initial estimates place the restoration of Council managed roads, drainage and bridges at $2.114 million, with the cost to clear the Shire’s roads of fallen trees and debris amounting to a further $144,000.
Council’s Deputy General Manager of Operations, Finance and Risk, Mr Barry Paull said the damage incurred was widespread.
“Not one of our towns or villages escaped some degree of water damage,” he said.
“Homes, businesses, commercial properties and public infrastructure were all affected.”
The storm event was subsequently declared a ‘natural disaster’ by the Office of Emergency Management on 7 June 2016.
As per current arrangements with the Federal Government, when Local Government Areas are declared a natural disaster, financial assistance is made available to help communities get back on their feet.
“The problem is that the financial assistance doesn’t cover all the costs,” explained Mr Paull.
Current arrangements see Council reimbursed all monies for urgent immediate works. This includes the cost to clear roads of fallen trees and clean drains blocked with storm debris.
“However it doesn’t cover longer term reinstatement and repair works to our Shire’s infrastructure,” Mr Paull said. “In these circumstances Council is required to meet 25 per cent of the bill.”
A comprehensive financial report detailing final costs and possible implications in meeting future Fit for the Future benchmarks will be presented to the Finance Committee on 17 August.
“A number of factors will be considered in this report,” Mr Paull added.
“They include implications on this year’s budget, an update on the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Assistance funding to help cover the costs and prioritising all the repairs.”