Federal freeze blows in
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.