Councils share in $20-million
Municipal governments across the region will share in State Government support money through a new $20-million Rural Councils Transformation Program.
Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek announced Hindmarsh, Horsham, Loddon, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack councils would share in $5-million to ‘improve the quality, effectiveness and affordability services to communities’ in the Wimmera and southern Mallee.
He also announced Ararat council would share $4.5-million with Central Highlands municipalities Ballarat, Central Goldfields, Golden Plains, Hepburn and Pyrenees councils.
The Wimmera grant targets development of a suite of regionally shared finance and payroll services to provide ‘more than $8-million in productivity benefits and reduced costs over five years’.
The Central Highlands grant will go towards a similar program, resulting in $11-million in productivity benefits and reduced costs, also over five years.
Mr Somyurek said the program was the first-of-its kind in Victoria and would improve the financial sustainability of rural councils and allow them to reallocate saved money to other projects.
He said the program would support the councils by backing large-scale, transformative regional projects.
He added the funding enabled councils to invest in projects that were previously
financially unachievable and strengthened councils’ long-term capacity to provide services to dispersed populations over large geographic areas.
“Rural Councils Transformation Program will achieve greater service benefits for rural and regional communities and strengthen the longer-term financial sustainability of many important services and programs,” he said.
“Victoria’s 48 rural and regional councils are the lifeblood for more than 1.5-million residents, and we want them to remain stable and sustainable heading forward.
“The program is delivering more economic benefits for regional councils than ever and this is the first time they have received funding for projects of this scale.”
Ballarat-based Labor Member for Western Victoria and minister Jaala Pulford said local government was always finding new ways to better support their communities.
“I look forward to seeing how this collaboration will bring benefits to our area,” she said.
“The program is delivering more economic benefits for regional councils than ever and this is the first time they have received funding for projects of this scale” – Adem Somyurek