The Burdekin Shire Council has lost $43,821 in Commonwealth financial assistance grants, despite the Federal Government’s claims made earlier this week it was supporting councils.
Mayor Bill Lowis said there was nothing new in the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday.
“The Federal Government’s intention to freeze indexation of financial assistance grants (FAGs) over the next four years was released in the Federal Budget,” he said.
“There was no good news in that announcement for us – in fact we have discovered that our FAGs have actually been cut by $43,821.
“This is a huge blow to Council’s budget as we had completed our Budget based on the assumption our grants would freeze, not decrease.
“This is money Council will now have to find to plug that gap in funding.”
Cr Lowis said Burdekin Shire Council had submitted a recommendation to the recent North Queensland Local Government Association conference for the Commonwealth Government to reverse its decision to freeze FAGs until 2017-18.
“We wholly support the call to reverse the freeze and restore indexation of FAGs, so councils, such as ours, don’t have to rely so heavily on our ratepayers,” he said.
“The Federal Government’s decision to not just freeze that funding, but to cut it, will certainly place this Council under further financial strain.
“Increasing energy and insurance costs, a static ratepayer base and rising compliance costs – which are passed on to us from the federal and state governments – have already placed a heavy financial burden on the Shire and its ratepayers.
“You have to wonder when it is going to stop!”
Federal Financial Assistance Grants are provided by the Commonwealth to local authorities to pay for vital community services and infrastructure, including roads, parks, swimming pools and libraries.