Wellington wants more federal govt funding

Wellington Shire Council has added its voice to a campaign to increase the level of federal government funding to local government.

Mayor Carolyn Crossley will write to Gippsland MHR Darren Chester, seeking his support to oppose any move to continuing freezing the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants.

Since the federal government paused the indexation of the assistance grants in the 2014-15 budget, council says it has lost out on receiving $2.6 million in grants.

Last October, the Australian Local Government Association received written confirmation from federal Local Government Minister Fiona Nash that the government intended to restore indexation to the grants from July 1, 2017.

But with the local government sector receiving no guarantees from the government it will restore indexation in the May budget, the Australian Local Government Association and the Municipal Association of Victoria have encouraged councils to write to their local federal MPs, requesting support in opposing any move to continue the freeze to Financial Assistance Grants indexation.

Councillor Malcolm Hole said money from the grants program was not tied to particular projects.

"Council gets the opportunity to use that without any strings attached for the betterment of our community," he said.

"When you attach (the freeze in Financial Assistance Grants indexation) to rate capping from the Victorian government, it's making it harder and harder for us to meet the demands of the community."

Mr Chester said the federal government provided funding to councils for a range of infrastructure needs from roads and footpaths to community halls, sporting facilities and employment projects through the Financial Assistance Grants program.

"In the past year, Wellington Shire received more than $12 million from this program in untied funding to assist the council with infrastructure projects," he said.

"Financial Assistance Grants allocated to the electorate of Gippsland for the 2016-17 year totalled more than $37 million.

"In addition, councils receive federal government funding from the Roads to Recovery program, Bridges Renewal program and regional development funding for projects such as the Port of Sale redevelopment and Gippsland Regional Sports Complex expansion.

"I meet regularly with shire executives and councillors across the region and am well aware of the importance of this funding to local government and the strong desire to see Financial Assistance Grants increased on an annual basis.

"I will continue to make sure Gippsland receives its fair share of government funding from this and other government programs."

Gippsland Senior
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