Council continues to struggle to provide adequate and appropriate infrastructure and services in the current funding environment. The reduced core Federal funding places additional pressure on Council, in an already complex financial landscape. Council faces the impact of additional costs by virtue of comprising 15 Divisions, across 14 unique island locations. Without reinstatement of previous levels of Federal funding, Council risks adversely impacting the standards of living for its residents.
Financial Assistance Grants are currently set at approximately 0.6% of the Commonwealth’s estimated taxation revenue, although historically it was at 1%. Current Financial Assistance Grant funding under the approximately 0.6% rate is $12,332,746 for 2021-22. A return to the original 1% rate would result in an increase in funding to a total value of approximately $20,554,577, which would inform better financial sustainability for Council and enhanced ability to address continuing issues associated with service delivery and infrastructure.
Council has a number of significant projects which the additional funding would be immediately directed to, with a particular focus on infrastructure and community services.
The Financial Assistance Grant scheme (FAGs) is practically the life blood of small Indigenous Council’s that have no rate base or only minimal rateable land. The Torres Strait Island Regional Council is unique in comparison to other local government organisations; servicing a population base of 5,000 people, spread across 42,000 square kilometres of ocean and 15 individual island communities, each with their own unique characteristics and service requirements. All of which is managed by a total asset base of $1.6b (gross), with an annualised depreciation of $47.1m and a total operating revenue of $84m.