OPINION: A fairer way to pay for repairs
ON THE face of it, I reckon the South Burnett Regional Council's decision to fold the Road Infrastructure Levy into the general rates is a fair outcome.
This fairness hinges on the fact that property owners who have land of higher value, including farmers and industry, will pay a higher proportion of the levy. They use the roads more and their vehicles contribute to damage on those roads, though not as much as the weather does.
Since it was introduced all those years ago, residential home owners - myself included - have been paying for road repairs in remote parts of the South Burnett.
We've been paying for repairs on dirt roads that are only used by a handful of property owners.
Now, my wife and I have good jobs and few expenses so I don't mind paying it, but there is a legion of pensioners, families and folks less-well-off for whom the household budget is tight. Today's news will bring them relief.
I know farmers are struggling with drought, with high costs for feed and freight, with declining cattle prices and what looks like a poor winter rain forecast, but that doesn't change two important truths.
Our road network is large and the population is sparse. This means that if you expect your road to be top quality all year round you are going to be disappointed.
To date, the South Burnett Regional Council has done a poor job maintaining the road network and some of this is due to declining Federal and State grants.
I'll give them a pass on that. But what it has no excuse for is its inability to manage the public expectations. The roads budget is a sink-hole and no amount of money will satisfy everyone. At some point the council has to say, 'no more'.
Hopefully that happens soon.