5 May 2017
Mitchell Shire Council has welcomed increased funding for community services in the 2017/18 State Budget, but has expressed its disappointment at a major cut to the Growing Suburbs Fund.
While welcoming more money for emergency services, maternal and child health, kindergartens and school crossings, Council would like to see more ongoing funding for local roads and public transport improvements.
Roads, road safety and public transport are some of the Mitchell Shire community’s top priorities, therefore Council has welcomed projects funded in the State Budget including:
• $260 million for maintenance of VicRoads’ regional roads
• $43 million to fund business cases for 43 regional and rural road upgrades
• $43.5 million allocated to add extra coaches and infrastructure to increase train services between Seymour and Shepparton
Council looks forward to seeing what roads projects will be rolled out specifically in our region, and whether that money includes preliminary planning works announced earlier this year for the Kilmore-Wallan Bypass.
Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said Council had been advocating strongly on behalf of the community and it was pleasing to see many of these priorities funded.
“We’ve been advocating for improved roads and public transport, SES funding, upgrades to local schools, the purchase of land for schools in growth areas such as Greater Beveridge, and more mobile phone towers,” Cr Sanderson said.
“We’ve also been calling on the State Government to meet their share of council services and responsibilities including roads, maternal and child health, libraries, weeds and school crossings.
“We’re pleased the government has delivered on many of these and look forward to seeing more detail about local projects that may come out of some of the funding announced yesterday.
“It is also pleasing that the cut in payroll tax to make it attractive to businesses to relocate and or grow in Mitchell Shire has been introduced. Investment and job attraction is a major priority for the Shire.”
Features of the State Budget that may benefit Mitchell Shire include:
• $14.9 million to cover operational costs of SES units and assist with long term leases for those located on Council-land
• $64 million to upgrade and modernise 59 schools in regional Victoria, including $1.3 million for Wandong Primary School
• $11 million for the Mobile Black Spots program, with a focus on increasing mobile coverage in flood and fire prone areas
• $273.3 million to reduce the impact of bushfires by targeting high risk areas
• $162.7 million to upgrade and expand the Northern Hospital
• $25 million to support local sporting clubs
• $1.9 billion to tackle family violence
• Allocation of funds for planning work on transport projects
However, Council is disappointed the Growing Suburbs Fund – grant money given to 10 council’s in the metropolitan growth corridors - has been cut from $50 million to $25 million per annum.
Cr Sanderson said in a rate capped environment, these funds were vital.
“Growth councils already have such a difficult time addressing the shortfall in infrastructure and services in our communities,” Cr Sanderson said.
“With less of these funds available, and with Councils already working in a rate-capped environment, our communities will be waiting even longer for these vital facilities.
“The reality is that for a modest State investment, the benefits at the local level in the projects delivered have been enormous and truly game changing for our communities.”
Cr Sanderson also said: “Council was disappointed that yet again some of the waste levy was being directed to other projects and not towards waste management projects.”