Council finds federal funding sources difficult to decipher

WELLINGTON Shire Council was told there will be little opportunity to obtain federal funding for important infrastructure projects until at least 2015.

In a response to a question on notice about Federal Government funding of infrastructure projects and the current applications process and priorities, chief executive David Morcom’s advice to council on Tuesday night was Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss had announced the National Stronger Regions Fund, which will be available from 2015 and will include grants of between $20,000 and $10 million on a dollar for dollar basis, to support the development of community infrastructure.

He reported there was at present limited information available on the fund’s guidelines, assessment process and timelines.

“Until this funding program becomes available there are no other funding opportunities from the Federal Government directly to support the development of community infrastructure,” his report to council stated.

However Mr Morcom advised councillors he would be adding greater detail and new information when resubmitting his response at the council’s next meeting on February 4, 2014.

A spokesman for Mr Truss told the Gippsland Times the government was delivering on its election commitments, by providing up to $342 million towards about 300 community projects across Australia under the new Community Development Grants Program.

The spokesman blamed the previous Labor government for uncontracted projects under Regional Development Australia Fund and Community Infrastructure Grants Program.

“Through responsible management of the budget we have found additional funds for these uncontracted projects, without a mining tax,” he said.

“The government recognises that local councils and community groups are the foundations of regional areas and it intends to work closely with these groups to build stronger cohesive communities and give our regions the recognition they deserve.”