MEMBER for Mildura Ali Cupper has pointed to the issue of local roads funding to demonstrate the need for increased financial support for local councils.
“I echo the sentiments from Buloke Shire that (in relation to roads funding) regional and rural councils never seem to have enough funding to deliver all the services that the community want,” she said.
“It’s becoming impossible for our rural councils to maintain their vast road networks because they have far fewer ratepayers and much higher overheads than metropolitan councils.
“Due to these revenue gaps, not only do our roads suffer, but local ratepayers are left to deal with rates notices six times higher than their city counterparts, and that’s unjust.”
Since her election to the Victorian Parliament in 2018 Ms Cupper, herself a former Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Mildura, has campaigned tirelessly to address the scandalous disparity in rates between rural and metropolitan ratepayers, an issue that she links to the chronic underfunding of local government.
Ms Cupper wants both major parties to commit to increasing the quantum of the Financial Assistance Grants program from 0.55 per cent to at least one per cent of Commonwealth taxation revenue.
She also is lobbying for legislative changes to provide states more flexibility when allocating Financial Assistance Grant funding, so they can target the councils most in need.
“Buloke is the most financially disadvantaged council in the State through no fault of its own, and these small revisions to local government funding will deliver direct benefits to ratepayers,” Ms Cupper said.
“These two changes could unlock as much as $5 million per annum for Buloke Shire, and council could spend half of that funding relief on roads, and the other half on rate reduction.
“The Shire that stands to benefit the most from rate reform is Buloke Shire, and the major parties need to be addressing these financial pressures as a matter of priority.”