MORE than $51 million in grants for local councils in the Wannon electorate has been released by the federal government after weeks of Senate uncertainty.
Millions more are locked up under the government’s freeze on indexation, but on-off special allocations are expected to provide some relief next financial year for councils struggling to maintain their roads.
Wannon MP Dan Tehan announced yesterday first-quarter payments for this financial year’s financial assistance grant program base allocations had been delivered with the rest to come in the next few months.
“They had been held up with the Senate shenanigans,” he said.
“Councils in this electorate will receive a total of $51.6m this financial year, which is what they expected.
“I have written to Warren Truss (Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) suggesting that rather than a three-year freeze it be a two-year freeze.
“I haven’t had a response yet. Next financial year there will be one-off extra payments of a 50 per cent boost in Roads to Recovery and a substantial boost in the Black Spot program.
“I’ve had a number of representations from groups in my electorate concerned about the indexation freeze.”
Councils are free to spend the financial assistance program grants on their own local priorities without restrictions from Canberra.
The allocations are: Moyne $7.393m, Glenelg $7.159m, Corangamite $7.056m, Southern Grampians $6.778m, Ararat $5.336m, Pyrenees $5m, Central Goldfields $3.607m and Warrnambool City $3.562m.
Moyne Shire Council mayor James Purcell said the freeze left the shire $300,000 short in its capital works budget this financial year.
“We’ll have to make up the difference by taking money from our reserves,” he said.
Warrnambool City Council chief executive Bruce Anson said the grants would help with services to the community, but the indexing freeze would place pressure on council’s capacity to deliver these services.
“We are very appreciative of the grant,” he said.