Lower Eyre councils praise return of federal grants

GRANTS: An estimated $155.9 million is expected to return to South Australian councils with the return of indexation of the Federal Assistance Grants.
GRANTS: An estimated $155.9 million is expected to return to South Australian councils with the return of indexation of the Federal Assistance Grants.

Lower Eyre Peninsula mayors have welcomed the reintroduction of Federal Assistance Grants indexation and return of supplementary road funding, calling it a victory for South Australian councils.

In last week’s federal budget it was announced indexation of the grants would return along with the supplementary road funding.

South Australian councils are expected to receive an estimated $155.9 million in grant funding in 2017/18, with $78 million of this to be received by councils in June this year.

Councils will also share in $40 million of supplementary road funding across the next two years, on top of Roads to Recovery funding being extended to at least 2020/21.

The Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association welcomed the news after advocating for the grants indexation and road funding since they were removed three years ago.

Port Lincoln mayor Bruce Green said the relaxation of the freeze on indexation would probably add $30,000 to the council’s budget.

He said supplementary road funding would need to be divided before the council would know what it would receive but in the past it had received up to $100,000.

“Our local MPs need to be commended for assisting our sector in having this funding reinstated, resulting in our communities being big winners,” he said.

Lower Eyre Peninsula mayor Julie Low said the grants indexation was fantastic news as they made up about 15 per cent of council income and the supplementary road funding was even better.

“That is an unexpected bonus, absolutely wonderful news for South Australian councils,” she said.

Tumby Bay mayor Sam Telfer said the news was welcome and would be calculated into the council’s draft annual business plan, which will be released for public consultation this week.

“When the freeze came in place we had to do some serious management of our budgets, which meant things had to get delayed,” he said.

“Funding reinstated means we can get back to levels we were at a few years ago.”