Regional roads to feel the pinch

Regional roads to feel the pinch

South Australian communities will feel a $24 million backlash as a result of last night’s Federal Budget which has ripped much needed community funding from Local Government.

The Local Government Association President, Mayor David O’Loughlin said that in addition to the loss of SA’s $18 million per annum in supplementary local road funds Councils will also lose about $6 million expected growth in financial assistance grants.

He said what look like possible sweeteners in the form of a future increase to Roads to Recovery funding and the Federal Black Spots Program would be dependent on development of the Federal Government’s proposed Asset Recycling Program. There is no guarantee any of these funds will find their way down to Council level.

A new Bridges to Renewal program of $60 million a year nationally would provide funding on an application/competitive basis, again with no guarantee SA will receive a cent.

Mayor O’Loughlin said the budget cuts would play havoc with draft Council budgets currently out for consultation with communities.

“Essentially Councils only have one tax, so the choices they have to put to communities are simple: cut services or increase rates,” he said.

Mayor O’Loughlin said the most savage cut to SA Councils, by terminating the Supplementary Local Road Funding, was grossly unfair as it only impacts on SA. No other state has had a cut of this type.

This means the Abbott Government has chosen to cut SA’s share of local road funding to SA to the lowest level since the early years of the Howard Government. “It is outrageously unfair, targeted at South Australians and cannot be justified by the Minister.” DOL

Program 2013/14 allocation ($’million) 2014/15 allocation ($’million)

Financial Assistance Grants (General Purpose component) 114.4 (a) 113.9
Financial Assistance Grants (Local Roads component) 38.6 (a) 38.6
Roads to Recovery 31.1 31.5
Supplementary Local Road funding to SA 17.5 0
Bridges to Renewal 0 (b)
Black Spots 4.7 (b)
Total 206.3 184.0

(a) Financial Assistance Grants for 2013-14 have been adjusted to take account of the early receipt of grants in 2012-13.
(b) Outcomes will depend on a competitive application process.