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Council writes to Prime Minister about grants freeze

Benalla Rural City Council has written to the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Federal Member for Indi asking that it not abolish indexation of grants which was announced in the Federal Budget.

LIBBY PRICE July 16, 2014 7:00am

Benalla Rural City Council has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey and Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan asking for the restoration of the indexation of financial assistance grants, which was cut in the federal budget.

The council voted unanimously to join the campaign of the Australian Local Government Association to lobby the Federal Government to reverse its decision to freeze the indexation of Local Government Financial Assistance Grants for three years until 2018.

Benalla Rural City Council chief executive officer Tony McIlroy told last week’s council meeting the freeze would cost the council $360346.

Councillor Suzy Martin said the funding was essential.

‘‘This is not an insignificant amount of money ... to have the goal posts moved in such challenging times. Let’s hope we succeed.’’

Councillor Peter Davis agreed.

‘‘We need to be quite prudent and seriously look at the Federal Government’s cost shifting for us to pick up the burden, and look at everything government cost-shifts.’’

Mayor Barbara Alexander said the funding freeze was fiercely debated at the recent Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly in Canberra.

‘‘It’s horrendous and came out of the blue,’’ she said.

‘‘Rural councils lack the critical mass, and capping funds will mean we will never catch up and we’ll be behind by 12 per cent in three years.

‘‘It raised the roof at the national conference and hopefully other councils will join as we need to keep up the fight.’’

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