'It's getting harder': Flood repairs slower, more expensive
STAFF at Ballina Shire Council have voiced frustrations about the slow rollout of disaster relief funding
At Thursday's general meeting, councillors considered the latest financial report which detailed $246,700 in disaster funding having been approved by the NSW Roads and Maritime Service after the March 2017 flooding.
Group Manager for Civil Services John Truman said the rollout of funding, and subsequent repairs, had become an increasingly bureaucratic quagmire.
Mr Truman said while councils were allowed to undertake some immediate post-disaster repairs when they pose a direct safety issue, their hands were tied on many jobs.
And when the funds finally roll through, they council may not be able to select its own staff for the job.
As natural disasters and the level of damage they create increases, Mr Truman said local councils' control over this process would diminish even more.
"The process, now, is much more intense,” he said.
He said they had pushed for the council to have agency on who they contract to undertake the repairs.
"We've lobbied and lobbied on that forever,” he said.
"It's wrong. Council needs to look at what is the most efficient way to do the works.
"I've said that to government, it'll make these responses slower and more expensive.
"It's going to get harder and harder.”
Deputy Mayor Keith Williams said the lengthy process was frustrating for the region.
"We've only just received ma disaster money for March 2017,” he said.
He called for Local Government NSW to pursue the issue and noted neighbouring councils would be in the same boat.
"I imagine Lismore must be going nuts waiting for this stuff,” he said.