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Kyogle Council to fight federal funding cuts

KYOGLE Council will join a push led by the Australian Local Government Association to fight funding cuts expected to cost councils close to $1bn by 2018.

Kyogle Council general manager Arthur Piggott last week told The Northern Star the Federal Budget decision to freeze indexation on grants to councils would cost Kyogle ratepayers about $350,000 by its third year.

Covering that cost through increased rates would translate to a 7% rate rise beyond the 2.3% currently planned for.

However, a report yesterday suggesting that rate increase could come through in the coming financial year was incorrect.

The council had no plans to increase rates in 2014-15 beyond the 2.3% allowed under rate-pegging and couldn't, even if it wanted to, as the Local Government Department's deadline for requests for higher rate increases expired months ago.

Mr Piggott said the indexation freeze would hit all Northern Rivers councils hard and was on the agenda for discussion at a meeting of NOROC council general managers yesterday.

In a call to action to the nation's councils and general managers, Australian Local Government Association president Felicity-ann Lewis said local governments would lose about $925 million by the time the three-year freeze expired in 2017-18. And the impact would continue well beyond that.

"The base level of (Financial Assistance Grants from the Federal Government) will be permanently reduced by 12%," she writes.

"Even if indexation is restored in 2017-18 (at an estimated 4.2%, which reflects CPI and population growth), the gap will continue to widen and FAGs will be about $334m less in 2018 and almost $350m less in 2019-20."

Mr Piggott said, beyond broadly supporting the association's efforts, Kyogle would also seek a meeting with Page Nationals MP Kevin Hogan to discuss the issue and its likely impact on the council and Kyogle ratepayers.

Topics:  kyogle council



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