Mayor wants NSW Government to pay up
"WE'RE coming for the cheque" is the message Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson wants the NSW Government to hear loud and clear as the council fights for funding to repair the Waterview Heights levee.
Until then, it will be up to ratepayers to foot the bill for the estimated $1.18 million works, with a mere $98,000 offered by the government through the NSW Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements scheme.
The council has since May 2013 submitted three formal funding applications with the NSW Public Works Department in a bid to secure funding to repair the damaged levee.
The government has so far offered only $98,000 through the NSW Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements scheme.
"I am laying the blame here fair and square on the Public Works of NSW," Cr Williamson said.
"I do, to this day, believe our ratepayers are entitled to that $1.18 million."
Council voted unanimously to finance the rehabilitation work but Cr Williamson said it would not settle until the money was repaid.
"May I tell Public Works and the Minister for Finance and Services, I understand the government is in caretaker mode but we are coming down for the cheque after March 28," Cr Williamson said.
"If he can get it done earlier, good, Locked bag 23.
"While the council will pick up the immediate tab, we are not letting you off.
"We are coming for the money we are entitled to."
CVC general manager Scott Greensill told the council chamber on Tuesday night the hold-up in repairs was because the government refused to recognise the levee is a levee, with claims it is private property.
"The council is saying it is a levee, government is saying it's not," Mr Greensill said.
The discussion hit the council table after a notice of motion was put forward for a second time by Cr Karen Toms.
Last month she requested the council receive a report on the integrity of the levee wall by the April meeting. That request lapsed for want of a seconder.
The motion was then amended by councillors Arthur Lysaught and Jim Simmons to include a point that council act immediately to make good the damaged flood wall and apply pressure to state and federal members. The motion was carried unanimously. Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said since being made aware of the severity of the damage he had been in touch with the Minister for Finance and Services Dominic Perrottet.
"I spoke with him and he said he will talk directly with the Department of Public Works to get to the bottom of this," Mr Gulaptis said.
"I am in close contact with the landowner who is concerned with the wider ramifications that if it did flood and his house washed down the river, it might hit a pylon on the Grafton Bridge."