Melbourne’s interface councils are calling on the state government to increase the amount of money available in its Growing Suburbs Fund to help them build critical infrastructure.
The government announced in this year’s budget that the fund would be cut in half, reduced from $50 million to $25 million.
Interface Councils spokesman and Nillumbik mayor Peter Clarke, said the cut would put a strain on applications, as 10 councils submitted more than 90 applications this year.
The Interface Councils group represents the 10 councils that form a ring around Melbourne, including Whittlesea and Hume.
“Melbourne’s outer suburbs are home to more than 1.5 million people … all of whom are in urgent need of additional infrastructure and services,” Cr Clarke said.
“Interface Councils are pleased that $25 million per annum was allocated for the fund for the next two years, however, even if the full $50 million was spent in this year’s application process, there will still be a shortfall of $81 million to fund all of the projects.
“As a result, residents are going to have to wait far longer to see infrastructure that they should already have.”
Whittlesea council applied for $7.65 million for five projects, including the Mill Park Leisure Centre redevelopment, renewing four playgrounds and building an all abilities playground at Mill Park.
Hume council is seeking $7.8 million for six projects including the construction of a pavilion at Arena Reserve in Roxburgh Park and upgrades to the Sunbury Town Centre.
Cr Clarke said the fund was crucial to councils who are trying to invest in the backlog of community infrastructure.
“For more than 15 years there has been a significant gap in community infrastructure in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and the backlog that is growing prevents residents from having access to facilities that … enable the delivery of social support services and promote healthy and active lifestyles,” he said.
Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins said the government had refocused the fund from dealing with the short-term backlog to medium-term projects.