LIST: Four projects to benefit from new pandemic grants

A POSITIVE impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has become apparent, with a new Federal Government grant package becoming available to local councils.

The package, which is a combination of two existing programs, was discussed at Somerset Regional Council’s special coronavirus response meeting this week.

“If there’s any silver lining at all, there’s some infrastructure funding that’s become available,” Director of Finance Geoffrey Smith said.

“Unfortunately this is still a competitive grant, so we’ll need to work to get it.”

Under the guidelines of the program, council can lodge a maximum of five projects for consideration, with an expectation that council be able to fund at least 50 per cent of the cost.

Projects must be for roads or bridges, and able to be completed within two years, with a maximum of $2 million available in grant money for each project.

Mr Smith recommended council focus on bridges.

“As you’d be aware, we’ve still got some bridges that aren’t in great condition,” he said.

The four projects approved for application be council are:

  • Replacement of Lester Kropp Bridge on Neurum road, which could cost in excess of $4 million.
  • Strengthening of the remaining 17 timber/concrete hybrid bridges in the region.
  • Replacement of Sandy Creek Bridge, Copely Lane, Crossdale.
  • Replacement of Braeburn Road Bridge, Monsildale.

However, with coronavirus prevention measures limiting the number of people who can be involved in a project, limitations have been placed on the progress of other projects.

Director of Operations Craig Young said some planned projects would need to be postponed.

“Those projects that have got Federal grant money and things like that, we’ll give those a priority over projects that are fully council-funded,” he said.

“We can defer, and carry those over into next year’s budget. We are also contacting all the different agencies we do have grants with, and seeking extensions of time.”

He said plans and projects nearing the public consultation or engagement stage of development might also be deferred.

“Obviously with the current situation doing that the traditional way we would have done isn’t appropriate,” he said.

“We may look at other ways, but at this stage we’re looking at deferrals.”

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