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Bushfire-affected council asks for $14m

Date

Kellee Nolan

The Murrindindi fires.

The Murrindindi fires. Photo: Justin McManus

A bushfire-affected Victorian council is asking the state government for $14 million to pay for the upkeep of assets it was given after the Black Saturday bushfires.

Murrindindi Shire Council received about $43.8 million worth of assets, including community halls, recreation facilities, trails and bridges, which it says it cannot afford to maintain.

It is asking the Victorian government for a once-off $14.1 million payment to meet the operation, maintenance, renewal and insurance costs of the assets until 2021.

The council on Melbourne's northeastern fringe was one of the hardest hit by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, with about 1300 of its homes and businesses destroyed.

Ninety-five of the 173 people who lost their lives in the Black Saturday fires were from Murrindindi Shire.

As a result of the widespread destruction, the council received about $43 million worth of assets through the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority.

Already expecting to be in debt next year due to falling rate revenues and other bushfire costs, it commissioned accounting firm KPMG to report on the ongoing costs of maintaining the assets and options to pay for it.

The February 2012 report gives the once-off $14.1 million government payment as one of five options to cover the shortfall over the next 10 years.

Murrindindi Mayor John Walsh said the council was asking the government for the once-off payment because it would provide flexibility to invest, was the most efficient option and provided funding certainty for the council, which was already increasing its rates by six per cent to cover its other operations.

AAP

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