Horsham council to 'kick and scream' about Federal Budget ramifications

HORSHAM councillor Tony Phelan has urged council to ‘kick and scream’ about the financial ramifications for council from the Federal Budget.

Councillors will write to several politicians, including Federal Government and Opposition leaders and treasurers, Member for Mallee Andrew Broad, Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty, Minister for Local Government Tim Bull and 12 Victorian Senators about their budget concerns.

The Australian Local Government Association has asked council to write to the Federal Government to highlight the implication of its decisions on regional services.

Southern Grampians Shire has also asked council for support against reduced funding for all councils.

Council corporate services director Graeme Harrison said the budget contained several measures that would affect Horsham council financially if they passed through the Senate unamended.

He said changes to financial assistance grants and the fringe benefits tax could affect council’s budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“More generally, the current Federal Government’s austerity measures are likely to impact on the availability of new grant funding opportunities within a range of existing programs as well,” he said.

Mr Harrison said a State Opposition pre-election commitment to introduce rate capping would also add pressure to council.

“These measures will have significant impact on our ability to deliver services at the standard that the community expects,” he said.

“Reducing financial assistance grants funding, together with possible limits on rate rises, will limit council’s options where cuts in service delivery will be the only options available to provide a balanced budget.”

Cr Phelan said council had to say something.

“The picture this is painting is quite disturbing,” he said.

“We need to, in a united sense, make all the funding bodies aware, people who are going to hurt are the ratepayers.

“We need to kick and scream as much as we can.’’

Cr Heather Phillips echoed the sentiment.

She said she had heard that the Federal Government collected more money than it needed, while the State Government collected less than it needed.

“The Federal Government collects more than it needs but isn’t giving it to us,’’ she said.

“The Commonwealth keeps wanting to take away and not pass it down the chain.”

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