Local Government is faced with the tough decision of cutting back on essential community services as a result of the 2014-15 Federal Budget’s three-year freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation, Mayor Troy Pickard, President of the Australian Local Government Association, has told delegates at the second day of the 21st National General Assembly of Local Government today.
The Treasurer’s decision in the recent Federal Budget to continue the freeze on indexation of FAGs means the grants will not be increased in line with CPI and population increases until 2017-18.
“Councils across the country are missing out on an expected $925 million in revenue over the period until 2017-18 that would have otherwise been used to fix local community infrastructure and fund crucial community services such as parks, swimming pools, libraries, community amenities, and recreation and cultural facilities,” Mayor Pickard said.
“In the face of the FAGs freeze, councils are re-evaluating what services and infrastructure they can continue to provide to adjust to the reduced revenue levels. The value of the lost grants to one West Australian council equates to the cost of resealing 23 kilometers of road. Another council in New South Wales has noted that the loss in grants is equal to a cut in rate revenue of 8.8%.
“It is ultimately our communities that will feel the pain of this freeze, so on their behalf, and on behalf of the 560 local councils across Australia, ALGA is renewing its call to the Government to restore indexation of the FAGs as soon as possible.
“The Commonwealth must ensure that our local councils, as an important sphere of government that is closest to the community, have the resources necessary to provide the level of services that every Australian community deserves.”
The National General Assembly of Local Government is being held from 15 – 17 June at the National Convention Centre, Canberra.
Sharon Akinyi, Director Public Affairs, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) 0418 415 649, firstname.lastname@example.org