DUBBO City Council may divert interest income and use savings to meet a funding shortfall caused by what has been called a federal government error.
Nanjing Night Net

The council will receive $325,848 less from a special grant than it originally expected because of revised population data.

Dubbo ratepayers will now only benefit from $6,678,071 in financial assistance grants aid for 2012-2013.

The council had drawn up its budget based on the original sum.

Council organisational services director Craig Giffin advised of a proposed measure that could avert a change in this year’s budget.

“Council received advance notice of the error and, as a result, has included within the draft June 2012 quarterly financial review statements provision to fund the shortfall in the grant from additional interest income received on investments during 2011-2012 and various identified operational savings,” Mr Giffin said.

“The June quarterly financial review statements will be submitted to council at its August meeting.

“If adopted, no variation to the 2012-2013 budget would be required.”

Of the decreased grant funding, the Grants Commission had allocated $5,042,150 to general purpose and $1,635,921 to roads.

This was reflected in the council’s 2012/2013 operational plan and budget.

Councils at Parkes, Port Macquarie and across Australia reported a cut in the funding expected from Canberra.

The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW hit out at the federal government, saying councils across the state would be forced to reassess and modify their budgets as a result.

Shires Association president Ray Donald said it was a disgrace that the grants estimates were so over-inflated and reported hearing of councils that were considering postponing or cancelling projects.

Regional development minister Simon Crean refuted the criticism.

A spokesman for the minister said local governments were receiving what they were legally entitled to and that the federal contribution would be almost $2.2 billion in 2012-13.

The grant allocations changed annually in line with changes to Australia’s population and the consumer price index.

Therefore, it was not unusual for adjustments to be made from time to time and delaying the adjustment was not possible under the act, he said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics provided population estimates based on 2011 Census data as required by the legislation governing the financial assistance grants payments.

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