Regional Infrastructure Projects Update - September 2013

By: Regional Infrastructure Projects Coordinator, Scott Britton...

Regional Road Group

Last month we received bad news in the form of a funding cut for the 2014/15 year. The Roads and Transport Alliance  Board (RTAB) has adopted a revised two-part funding distribution methodology as follows:

• 20% based upon number of councils in the Regional Roads and Transport Group (RRTG).

• 80% based upon the overall length of local government controlled roads in the RRTG.

Based on this methodology, funding to the FNQRRTG has been cut by 9.9% when compared to the level of funding available in the 2013/14 year. When previous funding cuts came into effect, many projects were either removed or deferred to the 2014/15 year. As a result of this further funding cut, the 2014/15 program is over-committed when compared to the revised allocation. The task for the Technical Committee will be to undertake a further round of deferrals/cuts to the program during this year's program development round in order to balance the program to the revised allocation.

We were fortunate to have a RTAB member present at the FNQRRTG meeting in Cooktown on 12 August.  The FNQRRTG was advised the new methodology was different to those which had been used in previous allocation rounds, and is based upon publicly available information.  For this round, the new Douglas and Mareeba Shire Councils were not included in the calculation of the 20% based on the number of Councils as they do not come into existence until 1 January 2014.  We have been advised that allocations would be revised to consider these Councils at some point in the future.  A timeframe for this adjustment has yet to be set by the RTAB to achieve this.

Asset Management

The IPWEA has in recent times promoted a series of workshops on their updated NAMS.PLUS2 Asset Management Plan tools and templates. These workshops have been promoted for each of the capital cities.  With the costs of travel included, attendance can be quite cost prohibitive. As such during August, a funding application was lodged with the Roads Alliance Board seeking up to $25,000 on a 50/50 basis to host a workshop locally in Cairns.  This will allow for up to 25 participants to attend the workshop. There has been strong interest around the region in this workshop. We have since been advised this funding application has been approved. The workshops have been scheduled for 29-31 October in Cairns.  Details of the final costs, with the subsidy factored in, will be provided to Councils in the coming days.

Regional Recycling Group

At the recent FNQROC Board meeting, issues surrounding the pending expiry of waste regulations and the relatively short timeframes for consultation on intended changes were discussed. A letter was subsequently sent the Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection to express these concerns. The existing regulations have however since been further extended for a further 12 months while further review is undertaken.

Steven Cosatto and I will commence detailed discussions with each Council later this month as part the benchmarking process for potential regional steel processing arrangements.