WIMMERA councils could lose more than $1.8 million promised by the Federal Government for development projects.
The Labor government promised Australia’s regional councils a share in $150 million through round five of the Regional Development Australia Fund.
But councils could lose the money after the Coalition won Saturday’s federal election.
The former government promised Horsham Rural City Council $361,911, Hindmarsh Shire Council $251,663 and Ararat Rural City Council $318,186.
Northern Grampians Shire Council was set to receive $364,059, Yarriambiack Shire Council $280,632 and West Wimmera $280,858.
Hindmarsh Mayor and Rural Councils Victoria chairman Rob Gersch said councils would lobby the Coalition to honour the funding.
“The problem is that if these funding arrangements were not signed off, there is a question mark over whether they will be honoured,” he said.
“Every council is in the same position and will be pushing for it to be honoured.
“The government has announced a project similar to the Regional Development Australia Fund but it won’t start until 2015.
“It could be two years before we are able to put some of these projects into fruition, which could really hurt the community.”
Cr Gersch said Hindmarsh Shire Council could lose more than $1 million because it had asked Regional Development Victoria to triple the federal contribution.
“Small rural councils are able to apply to Regional Development Victoria to match the funding $3 to $1,” he said.
“A lot of the projects councils want to do are projects they just can’t afford otherwise.”
Horsham Rural City Council plans to upgrade Horsham War Memorial Pool and air-conditioning at the Mibus Centre with its $361,911.
Council chief executive Peter Brown said council would not be able to cover the money in its budget if the funding was cut.
“We took the opportunity to apply for Federal Government money and council certainly isn’t in a position to fund the extra work,” he said.
“This is not just going to affect Horsham but all 561 councils.”
A Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport spokesman said the government would decide whether to honour the funding after the caretaker period ended.
“Consistent with the caretaker conventions, where a project is announced during the caretaker period the department will not be entering into contracts with the project proponent until the incoming government confirms its intentions in respect to the program,” the spokesman said.