'Catastrophic' consequences: council funding in federal budget firing line

Orange’s deputy mayor Chris Gryllis has argued more funding is needed for local councils in the federal budget.

Orange’s deputy mayor Chris Gryllis has argued more funding is needed for local councils in the federal budget.

COUNCIL funding could be next on the chopping block in the federal budget, but Orange’s deputy mayor has argued more funding is needed.

The Commission of Audit recommended scrapping the Financial Assistance Grant and Roads to Recovery programs, which deputy mayor Chris Gryllis said contributed more than $5 million a year to the council’s bottom line.

The $4.6 million Financial Assistance Grant goes into general revenue, while $500,000 in Roads to Recovery funding helps the council with its road projects.

The cuts would mean the federal government would cease to contribute directly to local government, leaving the reponsibility with the states, a move the Australian Local Government Association has labelled as “catastrophic” for council infrastructure.

The Audit Commission said sufficient revenue would be available to state governments via greater access to the income tax system and they would then determine which funds were passed on to councils.

“They’re crucial to delivering basic services,” Cr Gryllis said of the existing programs.

“We are grateful for the $5 million, but a city like Orange is entitled to more money. People pay their taxes, contribute to the GST and the other charges and I think we are entitled to some of that.

“We have to fight for every dollar we get.”

Member for Calare John Cobb said the Commission of Audit would have its place in the federal budget and did not want to speculate on which recommendations would be included.

But he said the Coalition had introduced legislation last year to extend Roads to Recovery until 2019.

“At the time, Labor and the Greens in the Senate blocked the passage of that legislation thus putting the program at risk,” he said.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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