$1.5m black hole as council grants money cut

COUNCILLORS have been left shaking their heads after close to $1.5 million was snatched from their pockets by the state and federal governments.

The higher branches of government have taken an axe to vital grants funding, leaving the council short $1.2 million from the Federal Assistance Grants program and $363,858 in Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme funding.

Southern Downs Regional Councillor Jamie Mackenzie described the cuts as "disgusting".

"There are no savings in an amalgamated council," he said.

"We should be given more money, not less.

"We can't sit here and take this on the chin."

CEO Andrew Roach said many projects had seen funding cuts this year.

"There are lots of things that have been reduced," he said.

"This is the biggest reduction as we are no longer getting the money we were when we were two councils."

Councillor and corporate services committee chair Jo McNally said the reduction in Federal Assistance Grants would have long-term impacts on the council.

"The largest component of the cut can be attributed to the fact that post-amalgamation non-reduction provisions now no longer apply and council's 2012-13 allocations have been calculated as one council, not two councils as has been the case since amalgamation," she said.

"The reduction in the allocation has a significant impact on council's current and future budgets and represents lost revenue in the current year equivalent to 4.88% of general rates."

"Council will need to consider the long-term impacts of this reduction and will also need to consider the impacts with respect to budgetary considerations.

"Council's operations will need to be reviewed to accommodate the loss of revenue."

Councillors were not impressed with the cuts and agreed to write to local, state and federal members as well as the Local Government Association of Queensland to express dissatisfaction at the Federal Assistance Grant Allocation reduction.

The cuts to TIDS funding were announced by Premier Campbell Newman as part of his budget reforms.

Director of engineering services Peter See said the cuts were significant.

"We can no longer do all of projects we had planned," he said.

"Across the state funding was cut from $63.3 million to approximately $40 million per annum.

"The Southern Border Regional Road Group, which is made up of Southern Downs Regional Council and Goondiwindi Regional Council, has correspondingly had its funding from the State Government cut from $2,393,069 to $1,522,770.

"Southern Downs Regional Council's portion of this had reduced from $1,111,118 to $757,019."

Projects the council can no longer afford to run include upgrades to Cullendore and Inverary Rds, school traffic management improvements, SafeST School Zone improvements and the Churchill Drive cycleway.

These road projects were chosen as they were the lowest priority on a long list.

There had been no specific projects tabled yet for the school safety program so the money will be used on projects already underway instead, including the Eukey Rd project, Spring Creek Rd reseal and upgrading the school bus route.



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