New England councils to share $23.6 million in federal funding

IN GEAR: Councils across the region look set to spend up on roads. Photo: Gareth Gardner

IN GEAR: Councils across the region look set to spend up on roads. Photo: Gareth Gardner

COUNCILS across the New England are set to cash in on $23 million after a handout from the federal government.

While councils are free to spend the financial assistance grants any way they wish, roads are top of the agenda right around the region.

Liverpool Plains mayor Andrew Hope said the Commonwealth funding was crucial for regional councils to get on top of infrastructure backlogs.

Cr Hope said rate-pegging has left a lot of regional councils behind the eight-ball when it comes to maintaining road networks.

“Rate-pegging is a serious issue, it’s always behind CPI so it’s hard to stay ahead,” he said.

The financial assistance grants’ scheme provides funding in two parts – the first is open for councils to use the funding on local priorities, and the second is specifically for roads.

While there is a second round of federal funding dedicated to roads, Cr Hope said the Liverpool Plains would look to spend up big with its $1.7 million on roads.

“We do have a wish list in the community strategic plan that we want to achieve, but we want to tick our core services first and make sure we do those things well,” he said.

Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty said: “roads and bridges are the first things that come to mind.”

Cr Petty said Mount Lindesay Rd and a bridge near the shire’s blueberry farm would see some funding out of Tenterfield’s $2.2 million grant.

The federal government has restored indexation on the council grants, which was welcome news for Tamworth mayor Col Murray, whose area will receive $5.2 million.

“Obviously, there were reasons for putting a freeze on it,” Cr Murray said.

“But it cost councils around the state about $300 million.

“To have it restored to 2021 is great for forward-planning.”

Overall, there was $23.6 million allocated to ten councils around the New England region.

GET PROJECTS ROLLING: New England MP Barnaby Joyce.

GET PROJECTS ROLLING: New England MP Barnaby Joyce.

Federal MP Barnaby Joyce said the initiative gives councils the freedom to fund projects.

“The council can spend the grant money how, when and on what they choose, including infrastructure renewal and maintenance of local roads and bridges,” Mr Joyce said.

“Our local councils have projects on the books that they can roll with straight away, which is why it is important for them to receive this funding now.”

How much will your council get

  • Armidale Regional Council – $3,125,224;
  • Glen Innes Severn Shire – $1,920,835;
  • Gwydir Shire - $2,130,102;
  • Inverell Shire - $2,771,587;
  • Liverpool Plains Shire – $1,736,411;
  • Tamworth Regional - $5,212,834;
  • Tenterfield Shire  - $2,202,724;
  • Upper Hunter Shire Council - $2,323,790;
  • Uralla Shire - $1,193,081;
  • Walcha Shire Council - $1,055,460.
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