Unsealed and upset
A ratepayer is prepared to kick up dirt over the Whangarei District Council's road sealing policy.
The council has chosen just three roads to seal over the next three years - Whangaruru North, McKinley and Old School roads - and will only seal them if landowners contribute $2500 plus GST each.
It can only seal 2km of road a year with its $600,000 budget. But a resident on the unsealed Massey Rd in Waipu questions how the council chose the three roads.
Kim Feickert says it is unfair residents living in unsealed areas cannot get a break from their dusty, unsafe roads for at least another three years.
Massey Rd has high maintenance costs and resident numbers are growing.
Mr Feickert says the council has taken development contributions from at least four subdivisions and should have put the money aside to seal the road.
"The council knows the subdivisions are putting pressure on the road," he says.
It will cost about $1.12 million to seal the 3.2km of Massey Rd - a higher cost per kilometre than many others.
But it has a higher benefit to cost ratio than the top three roads and Mr Feickert says it should be sealed before them.
He says he was fobbed off when making a submission to the Long Term Plan and the public forum presentation.
Councillors should drive the roads before making any decisions, Mr Feickert says.
He is prepared not to pay his rates over the issue.
The council's records show that Massey Rd has high maintenance costs but it is not a higher priority because it is a dead-end road.
Old School Rd is a strategic link, while McKinley and Whangaruru North roads are through roads.
The council used to get a 62 per cent subsidy for road sealing from central government but is unable to get any subsidy now because the New Zealand Transport Agency has a strategic focus on Roads of National Significance.
Councillor Phil Halse says sealing just 2km of roads a year is not enough.
"When I first came on the council we used to seal 30km a year and we were able to do our priority roads."
But Mr Halse says now it has to balance the books and has spent millions of infrastructure dollars on fixing inner-city sewage spills.
He says a developer was prepared to pay for a significant amount of the road sealing of Massey Rd about seven or eight years ago but the project was blocked by residents.
"We received massive opposition to sealing the road and it's too late now because we've lost our subsidies."
Massey Rd is one of about 100 roads with requests for sealing," he says.
"I live on a metal road and I've been a councillor for 20 years - I can understand their concerns," Mr Halse says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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