Jun 6, 2014

Inner west rate payers to feel more budget blues

People in the Inner West face increased rates from July 1 this year following the Abbott Government’s decision to slash vital funding to local councils.

More than $900 million in funding will be ripped from local councils by cutting the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation arrangements.

This will inevitably leave our councils with less money to maintain roads as well as deliver important local community services.

I have seen the wonderful work Marrickville Council, Ashfield Council, Leichhardt Council and Canterbury Council do in the area when it comes to ensuring members of the community are provided for, whilst balancing the budget.

Yet just last week, in Senate Estimates, we saw an Australian Government official say local councils would ‘need to reshape their budget in terms of no longer having access to that indexation factor’.

Local councils have already lost out under the Abbott Government.

In September last year the Coalition cut funding for the Regional Development Australia Fund and the Liveable Communities program, which saw Ashfield Council lose $119,055 that had been set aside to upgrade Ashfield Town Hall and a $500,000 grant for Centenary Park.

This most recent decision means councils will now need to look at other ways of broadening their revenue base including increasing council rates.

It could also see local councils assess other ways of managing the cuts to their budgets by considering staffing cuts, reducing vital local services and increasing charges.

The financial burden is on the rate payer to fund Tony Abbott’s cuts.

This in addition to the cuts Tony Abbott has made in his Budget to health, education and family payments.

A $7 GP tax and higher petrol prices will also hit the hip pockets of many people in Inner West.

Pensioners will also feel the impact of these cuts as they no longer will receive discounts on their rates as Tony Abbott has also abolished the pensioner concession agreement with the NSW Government.