The state government has quashed any suggestion the Shire of Moorabool could be amalgamated.
Moorabool mayor Paul Tatchell last month put council amalgamations on the agenda following a Regional Development Victoria report that showed Moorabool was being shortchanged.
The report indicated Moorabool had received just $15 per person in total grants from RDV’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund since 2007-08, when the fund was established, while nearby Ballarat received $820 per person from the same fund.
“We’re going to put out a budget this year where 86.7 cents in the rate dollar is going to capital works,” Cr Tatchell said last month.
“I’d nearly guarantee that Moorabool is the highest in the state for that, yet we have the lowest grant funding and the highest growth.
“If we don’t get a handle on it, we’ll certainly be talking to and trying to get the government to engage on ‘do you want us to amalgamate?’ Because if that is what they want, let’s plan for it.”
But Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek said the state government had no plans for amalgamation.
“We’re committed to helping councils become more efficient and sustainable by empowering them to work together to lower operational costs and deliver more efficient services,” Mr Somyurek said.
“Council amalgamations are not on the government’s agenda.”
Municipal Association of Victoria president Coral Ross said the state government should be doing more.
“Rural shires have a unique set of challenges with large geographic areas, long road lengths to maintain and a greater reliance on revenue from other levels of government,” Cr Ross
said. “Moorabool Shire is also experiencing a high rate of growth.
“We remain disappointed that the state’s upcoming rates review will not tackle the overall revenue needed to ensure all councils are financially sustainable and can meet the increasing infrastructure and service provision demands as our population continues to grow.”