Who will pay for flood housing help? Government or council?

ABOVE: Woodburn in flood. Photo: Paul Stanley-Jones

Susanna Freymark

Here’s the summary of the Richmond Valley Council meeting on Tuesday, July 19.

There was a lot of information about the floods and a discussion on the Iron Gates subdivision in Evans Head.

Remember you can watch the full council meeting here.

Homes damaged by floods

Most homes damaged by the floods will not require development approvals. The council will consider options to help owners whose homes will need to be demolished and offer support like they did for homes destroyed in the 2019 bushfires.

In the Richmond Valley, 3000 properties were impacted by the floods. The council has done general assessments on 2332 buildings and found:

  • Buildings flood damaged 1171
  • Homes flood damaged  806
  • Damaged homes that are uninhabitable  440
  • Homes destroyed  27
  • Businesses with flood damage  44
  • Homes to be demolished  15

The State Government offers free inspections through the Property Assessment Scheme.

Budget implications of flood assistance

The council estimated 15 homes will need to be demolished and replaced. If the council decides to introduce DA fee relief for those homes it would cost about $72,000.

The council did this for homes after the bushfires.

House raising

The council has received 70 inquiries abut house raising options. The total cost for council to waive fees on these homes being raised would be $132,000.

Richmond Valley Council does not currently have a voluntary house raising scheme. Council has written to the State Government requesting that it set up a regional scheme to cover flood areas. Council is also waiting for confirmation from the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation to make decisions on house raising, buy backs, resilient rebuilding and potential land swaps.

Council’s acting general manager Angela Jones said clarity was coming from the NRRC’s David Witherden on housing solutions.

“With the bushfires we found money from council,” Ms Jones said.

“We’d like the State Government to provide financial assistance (because of the scale of the disaster).

“If the State Government doesn’t fund it, council will have to find that money.”

Meetings, meetings

If you want to drown in government-speak, the report on Code of Meeting Practice document is full of it.

The way the council operates its meetings is set by the Local Government Act 1993.

At the beginning of the council meeting Richard Gates spoke about the information meetings held by the council that he considered were ‘in secret’ because the public could not attend and no minutes were taken at those meetings which means the public didn’t know what happened at those meetings.

Ms Jones said the information sessions were for “councillors and staff to discuss things”.

“I wouldn’t call them secret,” she said.

Mayor Robert Mustow encouraged Richmond Valley residents to make written submission as on any council issue as it helped councillors make decisions.

With regard to audio-visual presentations made by the public at the beginning of each council meeting, the general manger would be checking the presentation before the meeting, Mr Mustow said.

This was because the meeting was live-streamed and council was liable for any content displayed.

There was a lot of discussion about the Iron Gates subdivision. Read the full story below.

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