Ararat Rural City Council mayor Jo Armstrong has welcomed the release of the Victorian state budget but says council would have to compete to secure funding.
"Resilience in times of challenge is not new for rural communities, but nobody could have planned for the impacts on business of export market restrictions and border closures," Cr Armstrong said.
"The state budget's agriculture strategy supports opening export markets quicker as well as pathways to innovate and expand businesses to increase the value of products made locally.
"As the region with the greatest opportunity for renewable energy expansion, the government has rightly turned to our farmers to lead the development of projects that capture and reuse farming waste to create new energy sources."
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Cr Armstrong said the State budget also contained some positive local initiatives including upgrades at Ararat Primary School and Ararat SES.
The budget offered support for new Grampians tourism projects and reannounced the $2.7 million Ararat Hills bike path project.
"While this investment is welcome, the state budget is heavily focused on creating a number of funding programs where we will have to compete to secure support," she said.
Council chief executive Dr Tim Harrison said they recognised the challenge ahead for smaller councils.
He said larger councils with more resources had a competitive advantage in getting program funding.
"Throughout this pandemic the state and federal governments have sent a message to local government that it has to do some heavy lifting in contributing to our economic recovery," Dr Harrison said.
"ARCC has answered this call by getting local job-creating projects underway and assisting many retail and hospitality businesses to stay open in a COVID environment.
"It will not come as much of a surprise that our council stands alone in actually cutting the impost on business and community.
"It would have been good to see a range of local projects identified, and we didn't see that this time round. It's always a bit disappointing when you don't get significant projects nominated ... but I think we have got opportunity through the funds."
The government will spend $49 billion in the next four years to help get Victoria out of the COVID-19 recession.
Dr Harrison said council planned to fast-track the planning process for new housing in Ararat East and the town centre.
"We have a plan to create a stand-alone AFL Women's facility at Gordon Street Recreation Reserve, and we have a plan to secure the release of land to attract new business investment," he said.
"We look forward to the opportunities to secure support through the funds that have been made available through the State Budget to deliver these.
"This year we've seen an exodus of people leaving capital cities to come to Ararat to pursue regional liveability, lifestyle and opportunity, causing a backlog of demand for new housing construction.
"As prime movers that can deliver infrastructure quicker, cheaper and create a better return on investment - the Victorian Government needs to fast-track support now."
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