A $100 million Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme was announced by state treasurer Tim Pallas on Wednesday at Bendigo Airport.
The initiative will provide the state’s 79 councils with access to low interest rate loans of between $500,000 and $10m to deliver vital community projects.
Mr Pallas said that Victoria was able to leverage its triple-A credit rating to borrow money at cheaper rates than those available commercially.
The scheme will use that borrowing power to help councils get access to low interest finance, making significant community infrastructure projects financially feasible.
Eligible projects include community centres and hubs, cultural facilities, public libraries, kindergartens and early learning centres.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said this funding means projects such as the Bendigo Airport terminal upgrade may be one step closer to reality.
“This could be an opportunity for community hubs and library works that would fit this scheme.
“The loan scheme will be open for a short period of time, so we are hoping there will be multiple rounds of this, but we will be prioritising projects for this round,” Cr O’Rourke said.
Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek said the government is helping councils invest in their long-term needs.
“Access to low interest loans will save ratepayers money and help councils deliver the community centres, parks, libraries and learning facilities they need.”
Shadow treasurer Louise Staley said the government’s last loan scheme for local councils was an absolute disaster.
“This latest loan scheme is not what local councils asked for, they wanted access to the state government’s borrowing capacity,” Ms Staley said.
“This is just a ploy by Labor to take credit for council projects,” she said.
– NICHOLAS NAKOS