By Jackson Russell
Mitchell Shire Council is advocating for greater financial assistance from the Federal Government to support local councils’ road maintenance efforts.
A notice of motion from Deputy Mayor David Atkinson calling for council to write to Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton requesting increased funding through the Financial Assistance Grants was unanimously approved at the March council meeting two weeks ago.
Council will also put forward a notice of motion at the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly – which will be attended by Cr Atkinson and Mayor David Lowe – requesting increased funding to support delivery of a range of services, including road maintenance.
Cr Atkinson said Mitchell Shire is suffering from a significant renewal gap in the maintenance of its assets.
“In particular our roads, footpaths and buildings are in need of continued and increased funding to ensure appropriate upkeep,” he said.
“The combination of a dramatic increase in population coupled with the currently already stretched resources available could, in the future, present great challenges to our ability to maintain key assets.
“Mitchell Shire, as a council which straddles growth and rural areas, is year-on-year facing increasing demands upon the funding available and any increase in Financial Assistance Grants would provide substantial relief to already stretched resource allocation.”
Cr Atkinson said while council didn’t build the road network, it was council’s responsibility to maintain it.
“We can’t seem to do that with ratepayer money. Maybe we can plead to the Federal Government that we can’t maintain our roads on rates alone,” he said.
Central ward councillor Bob Humm said it was about time the importance of Mitchell Shire’s roads was recognised.
“Mitchell Shire is the fastest growing in the state and we’re now a major through area in Victoria so it’s time the government realised you have to come through here to drive further north,” he said.