Senin, 11 Agustus 2014

Local governments cutting road maintenance to deal with funding freeze in federal budget (ABC)

Several local governments have announced cuts to road maintenance following a federal funding freeze.ABC Several local governments have announced cuts to road maintenance following a federal funding freeze.

Road maintenance has been a casualty in some council areas, local governments say, as they deal with a funding freeze following May's federal budget.

While Tony Abbott promised to be the infrastructure prime minister, his first budget has been bad for regional infrastructure.

There is a saving of nearly $1 billion in the May budget - as the Government freezes indexation of the financial grants to local governments.

That has left councils with little choice but to reduce spending on roads which are the biggest item on their books.

Many are also trimming spending on child care, libraries and swimming pools.

In regional New South Wales, Cootamundra Shire Council's general manager, Ken Trethewey, says freezing indexation on local government financial assistance grants means his shire will get $1.1 million less over four years than it had expected.

This means road maintenance and services will be scaled back.

"So we'll do a little bit less in the parks, little bit less in the library, little bit less in the swimming pool, little bit less on the main street," he said.

Mr Trethewey says losing grant indexation hits rural councils the hardest.

"Essentially the smaller the population and the more remote those councils are the more they really rely on grant income, particularly financial assistance grants," he said.

"The net effect on a council like ours is really much higher than the net effect on a council in the middle of a city."

Port Pirie council chooses maintenance cuts over rates hike

The regional South Australian council of Port Pirie is losing about $300,000 a year according to chief executive Andrew Johnson.

He says it is cutting back on road resealing.

"It means that the quality of our roads will gradually deteriorate over time if the funding is not reinstated at some stage, which will cause some issues getting people and product around the region," Dr Johnson said.

"You normally have to reseal a road every 10 years in order to keep it up to its maximum life expectancy and its best condition and unfortunately we'll have to extend some of those time periods and do less resealing each year."

Dr Johnson says scaling back road maintenance was chosen over putting up rates.

"We just thought with the increased cost burden across the community, whether it be in water electricity council rates and other cost-of-living pressures, that it was unfair to expect the community to pick up the burden that the Federal Government has left us," he said.

Barry Rinaldi, Mayor of the Central Goldfields Shire in Victoria, says roads and services in his area will also be affected.

"We're going to have to attempt to maintain our roads, maintain our childcare centres, our kindergartens all of the other services that council provide are going to have to be done somehow in a smarter way but the end result will be that the services will have to be reduced," Mr Rinaldi said.

Mr Rinaldi says the Central Goldfields Shire is taking out a $1.5 million loan to try to provide those services.

He agreed there was irony in a council taking out a loan to overcome a cut imposed because the Federal Government is seeking to get out of debt.

"It goes without saying - they're just passing the buck," Mr Rinaldi said.

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