Future Directions - From Northern Grampians Shire Council

Article image - Future Directions - From Northern Grampians Shire Council All seven Northern Grampians Shire councillors: Cr Karen Hyslop, Cr Tony Driscoll, Cr Jason Hosemans, Mayor Cr Murray Emerson, Cr Merrilee Reid, Cr Kevin Erwin, Cr Wayne Rice.

In the face of recent changes to some of its most important revenue sources, Northern Grampians Shire Council has launched a campaign to secure the future of local government.

Mayor Murray Emerson said the freezing of Financial Assistance Grants and the introduction of rate capping were the driving forces behind Council’s ‘3, 16, 81’ initiative, which aims to force the State and Federal Governments to reconsider the allocation of the taxation dollar.

He said without increased funding, rural councils would soon be unable to provide their communities with much needed services.

“The message is a simple one. The biggest issue currently facing local government is not rate capping, but ongoing underfunding.

“The taxation white paper released in 2015 clearly shows the disparity in funding when the levels of government are compared.

From each tax dollar, just three cents goes towards funding local government. 16 cents goes to the State Government and 81 to the Federal Government.

“When you think about the amount of infrastructure that each level of government is responsible for and how much funding they receive to maintain it, there’s a very obvious mismatch. Quite frankly, it’s amazing local councils are still able to provide the level and extent of services they do.

“Local government is responsible for a great deal of infrastructure, particularly in small municipalities like ours where we have over 3000 kilometres of roads, 140 bridges and 452 major culverts that need to be maintained. The federal government has a lot less infrastructure than local councils do and yet they’re getting the lion’s share of taxation dollar, while we’re forced to look at downgrading the standard of our roads.”

Mayor Emerson said many of the costs previously shared 50/50 with the Victorian Government were becoming more heavily weighted towards local government.

“Things like school crossings and emergency management are perfect examples of this. The State Government is shirking its responsibilities and our ratepayers are left to make up the shortfall. It’s just not right.”

The Northern Grampians Shire Council has taken its ongoing 3, 16, 81 campaign to both state and federal government in recent months with the support of numerous other Councils including Horsham Rural City Council, as well as Rural Councils Victoria and the Municipal Association of Victoria.