16 April, 2022
Funding boost for councils
MAREEBA and Tablelands councils will get next financial year’s Federal Government assistance grants now and while the move has been welcomed by both local governments, the reduction in how the funding is determined has been highlighted.
A total of 25 North Queensland councils will benefit from the Australian Government’s $2.1 billion pre-payment on next year’s Financial Assistance Grant to all councils across Australia, with Mareeba Shire to receive $6.658 million and Tablelands Regional Council $5.193 million.
The grants are used to fund day-to-day operations of the councils.
Mareeba Shire Mayor Angela Toppin expressed her appreciation to the government for the pre-payment of next year’s Financial Assistance Grant.
“Local government is responsible for the lowest proportion of taxation of all layers of government, generated principally through annual rates revenue,” she said.
“It is reliant on higher levels of government to provide additional financial support.
“Mareeba Shire Council needs these funds to pay for its day-to-day operations - without this annual grant, council would be unable to deliver many of the services it currently does.
“The ratepayers effectively fund the wages of the staff through the general rates and the Federal Assistance Grant funds all the materials and services required.
“In our situation, as with other small Councils, this grant is not money available for additional or new infrastructure but rather an essential component of our operating budget. It goes part way to help deliver services that the community need but could not pay for,” Mayor Toppin said.
But Mayor Toppin pointed out that successive Federal Governments from both sides of politics had significantly reduced the level of direct financial assistance provided to local councils nationwide.
“Twenty years ago, the funding provided to local councils through Financial Assistance Grants represented over 1 per cent of Commonwealth tax revenue,” she said.
“In 2018, that figure has fallen to 0.55 per cent.
“The pre-payment of the financial assistance grant is welcomed, however it makes no real difference as the funds will have to be carried over to Council’s budget for the next financial year to fund day to day operations.”
A Tablelands Regional Council spokeswoman also confirmed the grants contributed to the overall operating revenue of the organisation, offsetting the costs of delivering services to the community and reducing the burden on ratepayers.
“However, the amount is a lot less than we have received previously,” she said.