Rappville post the October bushfire.
Rappville post the October bushfire.

Council to give the bottom line after drought, fires, COVID

THE financial state of Richmond Valley, in a year dominated by drought, bushfires, COVID-19 and border closures, will be painted in black and white at today's council meeting.

The council's annual report for the 2019-2020 financial year. will be released along with the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange report for the first quarter of 2020-2021; a review of the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation Position Paper on the impacts of the Queensland border restrictions; and an update on council's class action against JLT Insurance.

General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the report highlighted the severe and unprecedented impacts of drought, bushfire, flood and the COVID-19 pandemic on the Richmond Valley, but also demonstrated council's success in maintaining its essential community services and the completion of several signature projects.

"While the past 12 months have been a tremendous challenge for council and the wider Richmond Valley community, with extensive damage to infrastructure impacting on council's resources, the annual report shows we have continued to deliver for our community," Mr Macdonald said.

"Some of last year's highlights include the completion of stage two of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange, the opening of stage one of the Casino Drill Hall precinct and the Woodburn Riverside Park, and the stunning revitalisation of the Evans Head foreshore.

"The second half of the 2019-2020 financial year saw council's resources stretched as the organisation responded to successive natural disasters, such as drought, bushfires, flood and COVID-19.

"The bushfires not only devastated communities and households from Rappville to New Italy, it also made hundreds of kilometres of council's road network unsafe due to damaged trees. This required extensive work over many weeks to remedy, work performed by multiple contractor teams supported and directed by council staff."

Mr Macdonald said council continued to support recovery in Rappville and New Italy, with significant recovery projects including plans for a new Rappville Hall, a new shared pathway in Rappville, upgrades and improvements to the Rappville Sportsground, and upgrades and additions to the New Italy Museum, and remediation of the New Italy Mountain Bike Forest.

He said the flooding which impacted many parts of the Richmond Valley in February presented another round of challenges for council, with extensive damage to parts of Council's unsealed road network, including culverts and bridges.

He said Council's Assets and Infrastructure teams worked tirelessly to document the damaged infrastructure and ensure its repair was covered wherever possible under disaster recovery arrangements with the NSW Government.

"Inspection and report of disaster-damaged infrastructure does not happen overnight," Mr Macdonald noted.

"In fact, work to bring back the road network to its condition pre-flood is still continuing this month, with Myrtle Creek Road last week having six culverts replaced."

The meeting will get underway at 5pm, in the council chambers.

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