Mayor Peter Maguire.
Mayor Peter Maguire. Meghan Kidd EME251113blueridge33

Services cuts likely to avoid Central Highlands rates rise

THE Central Highlands Regional Council budget is handed down on Wednesday, with the warning some services could be cut to keep rates down.

Mayor Peter Maguire was among the 800 mayor and managers who met in Canberra this week and protested the Federal Government's $925 million "freeze" on financial assistance grants to councils.

Australian Local Government Association president Mayor Felicity-Ann Lewis said losing almost $1 billion over four years would leave the burden to fall on smaller rural and regional councils.

"I know speaking to many councillors, because this (FAG freeze) came in after they'd done their budgets, most are saying they will be able to absorb the shortfall in the first year," Cr Lewis said.

"But this is three years, and it will mean delaying new projects and putting off maintenance - after this year, those opportunities compound and make it harder.

"We haven't had an opportunity to manage this change... we knew in 2006 we had a $1.2 billion backlog in local roads, and that's nearly 10 years ago now - all over the country, community infrastructure is going backwards."

Cr Lewis warned the only way to absorb the cut was to reduce services.


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