A Wagga councillor has backed Bill Shorten’s call for extra local government funding, claiming an Abbott-era budget has cost the city about $3 million.
The Opposition Leader has called on the Prime Minister to bring forward next year’s Financial Assistance Grants funding to fund much-needed maintenance and undertake new projects.
Labor councillor Dan Hayes said the 2014 federal budget put the squeeze on councils, which were already under pressure from state government cost-shifting.
“Not everyone realises about 30 to 40 per cent of the council budget comes from rates and the rest is from things like grants, fees and charges,” Cr Hayes said.
“The government saying they won’t give you as much money has huge consequences for council and has led to some difficult choices.
“A big part of those grants are roads funding, so when people ask why don’t we fix more roads, well the money was frozen and you can only ever do so much with limited funds.”
Cr Hayes admitted Mr Shorten’s call to bring forward funding could be seen as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, but said it would allow council to avoid taking out loans to pay for infrastructure that might otherwise be on the backburner.
At the most recent council meeting mayor Greg Conkey passed a motion to lobby several MPs – including Michael McCormack, Senator Fiona Nash, Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher, Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill, and Labor’s regional spokesman Stephen Jones – to abolish the funding freeze.