Vic Budget delivers $40m infrastructure cut for councils
Victorian Councils are disappointed that the state budget handed down this week contains big cuts to local infrastructure funding, with $40 million slashed from a key program.
The Growing Suburbs Fund, designed to support critical local infrastructure in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, and which has supported some 350 projects since 2015, will get just $10 million, down from $50 million in 2022-23.
They also say the government’s failure to top up its share of the Maternal and Child Health program will leave local government struggling to provide services for new mums and their babies.
Victoria is the only state to have a universal maternal and child health framework delivered by councils, with all Victorian families entitled to 10 visits from birth to 3.5 years of age.
Under a unique MOU, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) works in partnership with the state to provide baby health checks for new mothers and their infants, under a 50-50 funding split.
Funding gap widens
Budget papers released on Tuesday show the government will provide $179.7 million in 23-24 for Maternal and Child Health and Early Parenting Services, which councils are expected to match.
But MAV says with councils having less money to spend in real terms and additional services added to the program, the state is falling away from the original split and councils are having to fill the gap.
A spokesman told Government News that due to the unit price funding not being revised since 2016, councils estimate they are now funding at least 70 per cent of the service.
Services, infrastructure under threat
“The ongoing funding shortfall is placing the service under threat. All councils are under significant financial pressure, we need the State Government to honour the 50/50 split to ensure this critical service can be delivered and sustained.” MAV president David Clark told Government News.
MAV is also concerned about the state’s contribution to Library services in the budget, which he says contains no new initiatives and has decreased to just 17 per cent.
Cr Clark says the budget confirmed the 2022 rate cap was just a quarter of CPI, meaning councils have less money to spend and will have to make hard decisions about community infrastructure and services.
“It’s clear the many challenges councils face in the delivery of community services and infrastructure will remain after this budget,” he said.
News not all bad
On the bright side, MAV has welcomed $1.2 billion for kindergarten infrastructure, $50 million for local roads, $12.1 million to help councils create new apprenticeships and traineeships and an additional $15.7 million for school crossing supervisors.
And there was at least one happy camper among the state’s councils, with Bendigo Regional Council celebrating an initial $2 million investment for development of the Bendigo Art Gallery, followed by a further $19 million 2026/2027, as well as $6 million for The Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct.
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