Victoria Shadow Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell
Brumby Government Starving Rural Councils
Victor P Taffa
There is a crisis looming in regional Victoria as Rural Councils struggle to cope with Brumby Government cost shifting, Shadow Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell said.
“I have met with nearly 30 Rural Municipalities across Victoria over the past 18 months and they have told me they are struggling to cope with the additional cost burdens that are being imposed by the Brumby Government.” Mrs. Powell said.
“Rural Councils are suffering from 11 years of cost shifting under Labor. Additional charges imposed on local councils range from the landfill levy to roadside weed management, family day care, libraries, statutory planning and school crossings.”
“Councils are being starved of funds as the current levels of government funding in areas such as general purpose and local roads grants, are not sufficient to fund the maintenance and upgrading of council assets such as roads and bridges.”
“To protect their assets many councils have been forced to close bridges, apply load limits or restrict the movement of trucks. Just this week Strathbogie Shire Council was forced to close the 120-year-old heritage-listed Kirwans Bridge near Nagambie, because it can’t afford to maintain it.”
“This critical piece of infrastructure will not be repaired and that will affect Fire, Ambulance, and SES services, along with residents.”
Mrs. Powell said rural councils already had higher expenditure per person than Urban Councils and were faced with the burden of higher costs because they maintain more Kilometres of Roads per person and many more bridges.
“Many Rural Councils have significant numbers of bridges needing repair, with estimates of about $700,000 to repair or replace a bridge.” Mrs. Powell said.
“These councils have to rely more and more on rate revenue, and that has seen some councils nearly doubling their rates over the past eleven years.”
“The recent announcement by the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition of a $1 Billion Regional Growth Fund will go a long way to helping ease the burden on rural councils.”
“It is time the Brumby Government listened to rural communities and stopped shifting costs onto local councils and starving them of the funds necessary to support vital infrastructure.” Mrs. Powell said.