The Victorian Local Government Association (VLGA) has welcomed the 2018 State Budget with its focus on infrastructure investment and regional development.
VLGA president Marg Attley said the $1.6billion investment in regional roads, the $400 million for regional rail services and the establishment of a new government hub in Bendigo would enhance regional accessibility and liveability.
‘‘As a regional councillor I welcome the reductions in payroll tax and free TAFE courses in 30 vocations that will help stimulate economic development and jobs in regional Victoria,’’ Cr Attley said.
‘‘I would like to note the imbalance of monies allocated to rural and regional Victoria in previous budgets and the ongoing need to support the critical services these councils deliver to their communities — often situated in remote locations.’’
The VLGA also welcomed the $241 million earmarked for upgrading of community sporting facilities.
‘‘The VLGA is concerned that there is no commitment for a long-term solution to waste management, including how Victoria should handle its recyclable waste,’’ Cr Attley said.
‘‘As the VLGA has previously stated, our current model of exporting waste overseas is flawed and not sustainable.
‘‘Councils are ready to work with the state government to find sustainable waste management solutions including reducing packaging, community education and organic waste processing.
‘‘We hope the state government continues to engage meaningfully with local government and other stakeholders leading up to the November state election, particularly as councils navigate the opportunities and challenges of delivering services in a rate capped environment.
‘‘Delaying this issue will have significant implications for our environment and future generations.’’
VLGA chief executive officer Kathryn Arndt said she welcomed the one-off investment of $20 million to go towards initiatives that would support rural and regional council sustainability.
‘‘This investment comes from the work of the Rural/Regional Sustainability Working Group,’’ Ms Arndt said.
‘‘Last year’s State Budget investment of $1million to explore both the issues and potential solutions impacting rural (and) regional council sustainability.
‘‘As a member of that taskforce, the VLGA acknowledges the work that was undertaken by the group and KPMG to inform the state government’s decision to make this $20 million investment in the 2018 State Budget.’’
The VLGA also acknowledged the one-off $50 million dollars that has been allocated to the Growing Suburbs Fund, which will provide an opportunity for ‘‘growth’’ councils to apply for additional funds to deliver services to meet the demands of their growing communities.