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Feds to directly fund local councils

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Pubished in Border Mail 10/07/05

COUNCILS are close to an historic deal that would see them establish a direct funding stream to the Federal Government.

It would remove their reliance on money that is presently sifted through state government coffers, which it is claimed masks its direct contribution to local government.

Indigo councillor and vice president of the Municipal Association of Victoria Jenny Dale said talks were well advanced.

“We are well on the way to establishing a direct stream of funding with the Federal Government similar to Roads to Recovery,” she said.

“A lot of people have been suggesting that we get a cut of states’ GST windfall but that is never going to happen.

“This initiative will remove our reliance on the states and be far more effective.

“It is also the first time that the move has also been endorsed by the states and territories.”

Cr Dale said it was a sign of the growing importance of councils that the head of the Australian Local Government Association would take a seat at the next COAG meeting between state premiers and the Federal Government.

“The association president is talking to the Prime Minister about the plan and the importance of local government,” she said.

The news comes as the Victorian Opposition blames the Bracks Government for dramatic rate rises.

Liberal spokesman John Vogels said Victorian councils needed to speak out against a system that has robbed them of $250 million in the past three years.

“By sneakily decreasing state grants each year from $206 million in 2002-2003, the Bracks Government managed to claw back a total of $75 million in 2003-2004, $80 million in 2004-2005 and a massive $93 million last year — a grand total of $248 million,” Mr Vogels said.

“They hide their measly contribution behind money that they pass on from the Commonwealth.

“It is no wonder ratepayers have been faced with rate increases three times the rate of inflation as councils struggle to make up annual shortfalls.”

Original Article here


Written by Greg Naylor

10 July 2006 at 5:49 pm

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