Fed­eral freeze blows in

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Swan -

AS coun­cils in the fed­eral elec­torate of Swan re­ceived their quar­terly pay­ments from the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment’s Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance Grants Pro­gram (FAGP), the WA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion said lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties had lit­tle to cel­e­brate.

Last week Swan MHR Steve Irons said the six coun­cils in his elec­torate – in­clud­ing the Cities of Bel­mont and South Perth and the Town of Vic­to­ria Park – would re­ceive more than $13.6 mil­lion.

He also said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment would de­liver a fur­ther $9.3 bil­lion to lo­cal gov­ern­ments from 2014-15 to 201819 through the grants pro­gram.

But WALGA pres­i­dent Troy Pickard said lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties would start to feel the fi­nan­cial im­pact of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s freeze on in­dex­a­tion for the FAGP, which would be in place for the next three years.

Mayor Pickard said the freeze would cost WA com­mu­ni­ties more than $50 mil­lion.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ments are re­liant on fed­eral as­sis­tance grants to pro­vide vi­tal ser­vices to their com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

“The freeze ef­fec­tively re­sults in a fund­ing cut to es­sen­tial ser­vices like in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance, waste man­age­ment, com­mu­nity sup­port pro­grams and a host of other func­tions.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ments will now be faced with the se­ri­ous predica­ment of ei­ther in­creas­ing rev­enue through rates and charges, or cut­ting back on ba­sic ser­vices.”

The freeze on fed­eral as­sis­tance grants, an­nounced as part of the Fed­eral Bud­get in May, places fur­ther fi­nan­cial pres­sure on the sec­tor, along­side $70 mil­lion in State Gov­ern­ment Bud­get cuts to road fund­ing, a 37 per cent in­crease to street light­ing and the cost of lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form, pre­dicted to be in the or­der of $100 mil­lion.

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