The Armidale Regional Council will have to commit more than $15 million to roads ($5 million each financial year) until 2024 if it plans to keep an annual grant from the Federal Roads to Recovery Program.
The council was found in breach of its commitment to the program, spending just $1.12 million on roads in the 20-21 financial year compared to the reference figure of $4.03 million a year it provided.
A letter to the council dated October 22 by Roads to Recovery states that the council will have to remediate the shortfall of a little over $2.9 million or potentially face losing future funding and having current funding pulled.
To alleviate the concern, council has been told it will need to budget at least $5.01 million to roads spending through the next three financial years to make up the deficit.
A motion for council to note the breach and note a need to budget for the $5 million spend was carried unanimously with councillor Peter Bailey moving the motion and speaking for it in the November 24 meeting.
"I'm extremely concerned that we missed the mark on Roads to Recovery Funding," he said.
"I think also we've got to accept that our roads are in such a bad state, that should be the minimum we should be trying to get above that - to try and fix some of the roads - particularly some of the dirt roads that aren't performing particularly well as I have highlighted to our engineer
"We haven't got the budget to it, but we're going to have to make some hard decisions."
Notes from the Armidale Regional Council manager of financial services, Kelly Stidworthy, presented to councillors at the November 24 meeting said a loss of the Federal Government funding would be detrimental to the infrastructure of the region.
"[Failing to meet budget targets over next three years] will place Council's Roads to Recovery funding at risk and this would have significant financial and asset renewal impacts on the organisation if the Roads to Recovery funding was withdrawn," the notes read.
"If funding was withdrawn in the 2021-22 financial year this would also have current budgetary impacts on programs where Roads to Recovery funding has been assumed."
Councillor Robinson said while there was a large impost on council, it was not unreasonable.
"The expenditure on the roads over the next few years will be making up the deficit and that is something obviously that we are obliged to do," she said.
Councillor Margaret O'Connor appealed for a more understanding response from the Federal Government.
"All I want to say is that our council has been through an extraordinary number of natural disasters for one term and I just hope that is explained to Roads to Recovery," she said.
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