Councils bank on extra funding

GRANT FUNDING FOR COUNCILS

Local government in Australia raises 4pc of national taxation, and is charged with the responsibility of providing much more than this funding can directly support.

Council only has one tax, that being rates. The bulk of taxation, some 80pc, is raised by the Federal Government, with its broad suite of taxation measures.

The Federal Government filters grants in various forms, either via the states or increasingly direct to local government.

On an annual basis, financial assistance grants, commonly referred to as FAGs, assist councils to provide a range of services and infrastructure, appropriate to local circumstances.

FAGs are made up of two components, general purpose and local road grants.

The general purpose component can be expended by councils in any way they see fit. The local roads portion, is designed for road maintenance and construction only.

In South Australia, we also receive what is known as the supplementary roads program.

This is a 'one-off' arrangement, unique to SA, and amounts to $20 million state-wide.

This is designed to rectify South Australia's unfair share of the local roads component of FAGs funding.

"The Regional Council of Goyder continues to seek funding opportunities for sustainable, appropriate programs and works closely with other tiers of Government in this endeavour."

Another ongoing arrangement directly with the Federal Government provides what is known as the 'Roads to Recovery' program.

This program maybe be used at council discretion to renew, replace or upgrade existing, or construct new roads. Goyder has quarantined this funding to be used to expand our network of bituminised roads, based on road usage.

The recent Federal budget has seen a modest dollar increase in this program, that will be very much appreciated; particularly by regional councils in South Australia.

A problem that is becoming apparent for some regional councils, including Goyder, is the low capacity of our bridges on commodity and freight routes.

The Commonwealth does have a bridges renewal program, that is limited to a funding level of $120m per annum, nationwide.

Given the number of antiquated bridges in the eastern states, this funding is competitive and difficult for South Australian councils to access.

This creates issues for our council on how we fund our bridge network into the future.

Some Commonwealth assistance is delivered on an ad-hoc basis, a good example of this is the Drought Communities program.

This provides $1m for each council deemed to be drought affected. Goyder has been a recipient, and this funding is being used to provide long term infrastructure improvements in our region, and support employment opportunities for people that have been affected by the drought.

Many other grant opportunities are offered to local councils on a 'one-off' basis; success in these applications almost always requires a contribution from Council. Goyder is committed to see that the opportunities offered by these grants represent good value for our community and its programs.

Council has been fortunate in recent times, to obtain a grant of $400,000 under the Australian Heritage Grants program.

This will be used to enhance the infrastructure around Paxton Square Cottages.

Our success in this grant application is a great credit our staff.

The Regional Council of Goyder continues to seek funding opportunities for sustainable, appropriate programs; and works closely with other tiers of Government in this endeavour.

Peter Mattey, Mayor

Regional Council of Goyder