GLOUCESTER Shire’s infrastructure backlog is one of the highest in the State according to new council ‘report cards’ published this week.
Council’s infrastructure backlog ratio is 56.2 per cent, higher than all the Hunter councils and only narrowly smaller than Greater Taree City Council’s ratio (the worst on the Mid North Coast) of 56.9 per cent.
Gloucester’s ratio was nearly three times higher than the State government benchmark of 20 per cent or less and was nearly four times as high as the group average for similar sized councils of 16.6 per cent.
The cost of the backlog sits at $74 million.
Mayor John Rosenbaum said he believed Gloucester’s relatively small population may have contributed to making the ratio appear worse than it actually was.
“I think having a larger population would certainly bring that ratio down a lot closer to the group average,” he said.
Dungog, a similarly rated Large Rural council but with a population 3500 larger than Gloucester, has a backlog ratio of 40.9 per cent. Council spends an average $1387 per capita on roads and bridges, compared to a group average of $1040.
A total of 41 per cent of all council revenue is spent on road and bridge assets. For the financial year 2012-13 council spent $2 million on asset maintenance - way down on the required spend of $8 million.
Gloucester’s financial sustainability outlook also remains bleak with TCorp giving council a ‘weak’ rating with a ‘negative outlook’.