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CHRC battles with QRA for flood repair funds

FLOOD recovery works will grind to a halt across the Central Highlands.
FLOOD recovery works will grind to a halt across the Central Highlands. Scottie Simmonds

FLOOD recovery works will grind to a halt across the Central Highlands as the council chases $11 million in outstanding natural disaster repayments from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.

Already $75m has been spent on repairs to roads and infrastructure damaged in the destructive 2010-11 flood event, but only $53m has been reimbursed by the QRA from $64m in submitted claims.

Mayor Peter Maguire backed a call from the council's organisational support services department to stop the recovery effort once the current list of approved works up to $82m had been completed.

The council is racking up $4m a month on the works.

An outstanding QRA debt of $5.4m has already been classified as 'doubtful' after a recent audit of the council's finances.

"Recommendations have been made to the Infrastructure, Assets and Public Facilities Team that due to the delays in payments, approvals and increasing probity requirements that work should cease once we have exhausted our current batch of approved works," Financial Services manager Adam Scott said in his report.

"WHILE the source of income is government funding, and therefore normally low risk, current trends indicate that unless very carefully managed, ineligible expenditure may occur."

Cr Maguire said despite the council being in a very strong financial position, the ebb and flow of money had to be closely monitored.

 

"I agree with that approach to stopping work until we get it approved," Mayor Peter Maguire said at Wednesday's meeting.

"We can expect some phone calls because we've not finished flood recovery work - well, the state hasn't approved it.

"What we're concerned about is going ahead and doing all these works because some cases through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement claims going to the QRA are getting knocked back.

"In the best interests of the ratepayer... we have decided to get Local Government Infrastructure Services to try and help with the process."

In total, the council has applied for $111m to fund all necessary flood recovery works, leaving a $29m shortfall yet to be approved by the QRA.

A QRA spokeswoman said the authority had a good working relationship with the council and was pleased with its progress.

"There has been no delay in approving eligible submissions for funding and the authority is currently working co-operatively with the council to assess the eligibility of further projects."

The QRA has $12.2 billion to help councils rebuild after recent natural disasters.



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