MAV sees road infrastructure under threat

Lack of cash for councils means road maintenance will be put on hold

MAV sees road infrastructure under threat
Victorian councils are feeling the pinch


Deteriorating road infrastructure in Victoria will be put on the back burner as councils feel the brunt of funding cuts, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) claims.

A freeze on Federal Financial Assistance Grants is set to impact state councils, MAV Victoria president Bill McArthur says.

A total of $5.65 million is missing from the first quarterly payments that are set to arrive this week, he adds.

"We have known since May that these cuts were coming, and some councils have had to take extreme measures, like scaling back road maintenance and other council services, to make up for the shortfall," McArthur says.

"In rural areas the grants provide up to 31 per cent of total funding, so rural communities will suffer a massive blow.

"Councils are responsible for $73 billion worth of infrastructure and Financial Assistance Grants have boosted councils’ capabilities to fund this vital infrastructure, maintain 85 per cent of the state’s road network, and pay for crucial community services like libraries, swimming pools and parks."

The cuts will force councils to reassess their budget options, with some having to increase rates, he adds.

This year’s Community Satisfaction Survey shows Victorians were split when it came to cutting back services or increasing rates to raise revenue.

"At a time when we know the asset renewal gap has reached $225 million, confirmed in February by the Auditor General, it’s a shame that these funds have been stripped from councils by the Federal Government."

He says the MAV has been working hard with councils to actively voice its opposition against the freeze, having established a Financial Assistance Grants taskforce last month which aims to guide the MAV’s response to the cuts.

All 79 councils in Victoria have banded together against the freeze and will lobby the Commonwealth to seek a reversal of the decision.

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