Corangamite prunes $250,00 after federal grants freeze

MORE than $250,000 in savings has been found by the Corangamite Shire to reduce the blow of federal budget cuts to grants. 

The federal government’s decision to freeze indexation of Financial Assistance Grants for the next three years has the potential to cost council $1 million over the same period, according to shire corporate and community services director David Rae. 

Savings were made in operating grants ($170,000) and materials and contracts costs reduced to the tune of $240,500. Capital grants were increased by $163,000 thanks to the reallocation of Local Government Infrastructure funds revenue from operating grants. 

Mr Rae said the amendments would increase the budgeted operating surplus to $1.575m, an improvement of $233,500. 

He said amendments had ben made to future years of the 2014-18 Strategic Resources Plan to neutralise the negative effect on cash holdings at June 30, 2018.

“Those changes have been put on public exhibition and involve a $990,000 saving in operating grants over three years and a $749,500 reduction in materials and contracts over three years,” Mr Rae said. 

Cr Ruth Gstrein said adopting a budget was the most important job councillors do. She said while it was disappointing to have to find savings, she thought it was a very responsible budget that would be underpinned by a $12.1m spend on capital works. 

Mayor Chris O’Connor said a lot of work went into the budget and congratulated all staff involved in its preparation. “We take the budget process very seriously and as councillors, we all want the best for our own patches and it shows in the discussions we have,” he said. 

“All councillors attended the pre-budget briefings and were heavily involved and I think what we have is a good budget for the whole shire.” 

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