Symes sympathises, but says shires must be frugal

11 Oct 2017 Mansfield Courier, Mansfield VIC (General News) UPPER House member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) has backed the State Governments rate-capping policy. Speaking after a recent meeting with councillors from the Mansfield Shire, Ms Symes said that while she supports rate-capping, small rural councils need more help with running their operations. Mansfield Shire Council, like many other small rural councils in Victoria, has pointed the finger at rate-capping for its financial travails. But Ms Symes said that rate-capping is fair on home owners. My view is that state and local governments should be responsible for the cost of provision of services and infrastructure, and theres only so much that you can put on your home owners, Ms Symes said. I think that many country communities have pretty much reached the capacity on what they can afford on their home budgets. I support rate-capping as it avoids having to hit up rate payers constantly. I think that its more of a responsibility of local government and state government to make sure home owners do not have to shoulder the burden. Mansfield is just one of many small rural councils contending that it is not receiving enough funds from higher levels of government to effectively run its shires. This, coupled with rate-capping, is said to be having a crippling effect. Ms Symes said she sympathises with this position. That is something that I spent a lot of time advocating for small rural councils, for their share of funding and acknowledging their challenges, Ms Symes said. I would like to see a bit of a loosening of some of governments grants, particularly for the matched funding opportunities, making it a bit easier for rural councils, and thats something Im going to raise with the minister with ways that we can go forward. Ms Symes said that small rural councils can undoubtedly be better off. Were all very aware of the issues, she said. Its harder for local councils, particularly small country ones, and we should always be looking for ways to make it easier for them, as well as them looking at themselves. Its a consensus view that we can all look to better solutions. One thing that can be addressed, according to Ms Symes, is the discrepancy between what country shires have access to compared to city councils. I dont like my country communities not being able to bid for something that their city counterparts can, just because their council doesnt have as much money as those that have parking meters, for example, Ms Symes said. Caption Text: WE CAN DO BETTER: Upper House member for Northern Victoria, Jaclyn Symes, says that small rural councils should receive more from other areas of government. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.