West Wimmera Shire chief executive Mark Crouch wants Wimmera councils to lobby the state government to achieve financial sustainability. SAMANTHA CAMARRI
WIMMERA municipalities will work together to fight local government sustainability issues.
The Municipal Association of Victoria and the Australian Local Government Association have launched a campaign opposing the federal government’s decision to freeze indexation on Financial Assistance Grants to local government.
The North West Municipalities Association, which includes all Wimmera municipalities, will also lobby the state government about proposed rate capping and a lack of funding.
West Wimmera chief executive and association secretary Mark Crouch said councils needed to lobby as hard as they could.
‘‘We need the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants removed as soon as possible,’’ he said.
‘‘Councils need to keep pushing things and keep it in the politicians’ faces.’’
Association chairman and Swan Hill councillor Gary Norton said a new independent report about the financial sustainability of Victorian councils highlighted the many challenges councils faced.
‘‘Low populations, large geographical areas to maintain and manage, challenging socio-economic realities, higher relative costs and lower relative capacity to generate revenues all make for a difficult operating environment,’’ he said.
Cr Norton said councils faced increased community expectations, fewer resources and challenging issues with infrastructure investment and maintenance.
‘‘Local government will need better and improved support from the state and federal governments if the sustainability issue is to be addressed,’’ he said.
‘‘Whenever local government sustainability is raised, there will inevitably be those who pose council amalgamations as the panacea for the future. This is not the appropriate response going forward.’’
Cr Norton said it was vital councils had improved and ongoing funding, a reduction in red tape and an innovative resource sharing service.
West Wimmera councillor Ron Hawkins said it was shocking the state government had not committed any funding to local government.
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