Stifling budget cuts

Latrobe City Council is reeling from changes to its annual funding announced in the federal budget, which may require council to reassess its own 2014/15 budget.

The Federal Government’s shock decision to halt rises to its Local Government Financial Assistance Grants for three years will rip an estimated $925 million from the budgets of local governments over four years.

Latrobe City finance manager Matt Rogers said council had drafted its budget based on an estimated increase of two per cent on the $11.4 million it received from LGFAG in 2013/14.

“We are still analysing the federal budget documentation,” Mr Rogers said.

“Once we have completed an impact study we will be in a better position to understand and comment upon any of these indications.”

Meanwhile, doubt has been cast over the future of Healthy Together Latrobe – a partnership initiative between Latrobe City and Latrobe Community Health Service aimed at addressing the causes of poor health in children’s settings, workplaces and communities.

Latrobe City healthy communities manager Regina Kalb said it was disappointing the Federal Government announced it would end the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health from the end of the financial year.

“This budget decision was handed down with no warning and as such all agencies involved, including the Healthy Together Latrobe team, are trying to understand the impact of this announcement,” Ms Kalb said.

“Until the implications are clear it’s business as usual for our team.”

Latrobe City acting chief executive John Mitchell said more council programs may be affected by Federal budget cuts, but it would take a couple of weeks to clarify the details of the impacts.

Baw Baw Shire chief executive Helen Anstis said the LGFAG freeze would not impact the shire in 2014/15, but it would lose out on a minimum of $165,000 in anticipated funding in the following financial year.