With Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) remaining at 2014-15 levels following the Government’s decision that year of a three-year freeze to the grants’ indexation, many councils across the country have felt the pinch.
This week, Mayor Anita Dow from Burnie City Council in Tasmania shared the impact that the Government’s decision has had on her council, which relied on the grants for seven per cent of its total operational funding.
“The last Financial Assistance Grant that Burnie City Council is to receive in 2016-17 is $2,223,887, which is 11.2 per cent less than our allocation in 2014-15,” Mayor Dow said.
“The freeze on Financial Assistance Grant income has had a direct impact on the level of rates set by the council. The impact of the freeze on general rates over the three-year period will approach three per cent.”
Mayor Dow also said that this has made Burnie City Council’s budgets challenging in recent years as they work hard to try reduce the rate burden to their community.
“Operational adjustments made due to a tightening budget include the consolidation and reduction of services provided to the community such as exiting child care operations and changes to a not-for-profit-controlled entity,” she said.
“Our council’s ability to continue with cost reductions without significantly impacting services is limited. A continued freeze on the Financial Assistance Grants would place significant pressure on council’s budget and rates.”
The FAGs payments to local government from the Commonwealth are important to every council across the country and the freeze to the indexation of FAGs applies to every council.
ALGA will continue to advocate to the highest levels for the restoration of FAGs indexation in the May Budget, but we will also need your help to strengthen our national advocacy efforts.
If you have a Twitter or a Facebook account, you can help by joining ALGA’s social media Thunderclap campaign.
The team at ALGA has also prepared a council advocacy kit – available at councils.endthefreeze.com – that includes templates, background information and talking points to assist your campaign at the local level to ensure the Government keeps its promise to restore indexation to FAGs in this year’s Federal Budget.