NSW calls to abandon grant freeze

Article image - NSW calls to abandon grant freeze

Local Government NSW will lobby the Federal Government to abandon its decision to freeze the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants, following a unanimous vote by councillors at its 2014 annual conference.

Councillor Keith Rhoades, President of Local Government NSW (LGNSW), said councils are currently living with the reality of the freeze.

“The consequence of this funding freeze is a $288 million hole for the NSW Local Government sector, and our communities, over the next three years.

“All NSW councils, both country and city, will feel the pinch, as shown by the 11 councils who submitted motions on this issue to the LGNSW Annual Conference, including the Blue Mountains, Blacktown, Randwick and Wakool.

“Financial Assistance Grants are extremely important as they are untied, which means they can be used for council services, facilities and infrastructure that the community deems to be most important, not as directed by the Australian Government.

“They are also an essential part of councils’ revenue base, particularly as NSW councils are constrained from increasing their own source of revenue by rate-pegging.

“$288 million over three years will not drastically impact the Australian Government, but it is a severe hit to individual councils, and even more so in country areas where they have extensive road networks and small rate bases.”

The Conference business paper details motions to be discussed and is available on the LGNSW website.