Local government seeks more federal funding

By Staff Writer
Commonwealth investment in local government will need to be increased as the country heads into recession, the Australian Local Government Association has said.

Despite an investment of $800 million in local infrastructure and stimulus funding ALGA president Cr Geoff Lake said Commonwealth spending was well short of what was required.

“There is a need, though, for extra assistance from the Federal Government to local government to help with meeting service demands within local communities,” Cr Lake said.

“The funding that is provided from the Federal Government to local government is not growing anywhere near the level it needs to in order for local government to meet the challenges that communities expect it to meet.

“They’re the areas that we’re hoping, out of the federal budget this year, to see some movement in the right direction for local government.”

Cr Lake said that the full implications of the financial crisis for local government may not be known for at least 12 months, even though pressure was already starting to be felt by communities.

“When people lose jobs they’re spending more time in their local communities, they’re wanting to access things like library services and human services that are provided at the local level,” he said.

“There will be an effect on councils in facing an increased demand on how these services will be provided. It’s likely to have an impact on councils over the next couple of years.”

Cr Lake said that the way councils cared for communities will be profoundly affected in the coming months with more people depending on local services. People will look to their local environment to provide the stability, he added.

“They want to know that the local park down their street is presented well and the swings and the play equipment work. They want to make sure that the basic community infrastructure that makes their community liveable is being well maintained.
“It’s when times get tough that often civic life at the local level becomes most important and it is important that councils are in a strong position to be able to provide these things effectively and efficiently to local communities.”

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