Tasmanian councils are angling for a much bigger bucket of federal money, arguing it would ease pressure to hike rates.
They will use the lead-up to the federal election to push for an increase in financial assistance grants which Fairfax estimates would lead to an extra $14 million per year being shared between the 29 councils.
Local Government Association of Tasmania president Doug Chipman said federal financial assistance grants to councils were worth 1 per cent of commonwealth tax revenue in 1996, but had since fallen to 0.55 per cent.
”The funding has not kept pace with the growth in construction costs, nor the demand for local services and infrastructure,” the Clarence Mayor said.
“Instead, there has been increased pressure on council rates and council budgets, making it more and more difficult for councils all across Australia to maintain community services and infrastructure.”
He said financial assistance grants were untied, meaning councils and communities could decide how they were spent.
Tasmanian councils are expected to share $18.2 million in untied financial assistance grants in the current financial year.
They will also get $20 million for local roads.
LGAT will hook into a national campaign by the Australian Local Government Association to lift financial assistance grants to at least 1 per cent of federal tax revenue.
ALGA also wants more road funding and spending to improve the productivity of freight routes.
Braddon Labor MHR Justine Keay said Labor was working with ALGA to ensure its policies for the next election met the needs of local government.
“Labor recognises that financial assistance grants play an important role in supporting infrastructure at a community level,” Ms Keay said.
“That is why Labor campaigned alongside ALGA to end a freeze on financial assistance grants imposed by the Coalition in their horror 2014 budget.
“That freeze saw nearly $1 billion lost in local government funding, affecting smaller regional councils the hardest.
“At a local level, I regularly meet with all councils and general managers to discuss their priorities.”