Hope for councils to bear less of the cost burden

There are hopes that a statewide review of school-crossing funding arrangements will lead to councils bearing less of the cost burden.

VicRoads is working with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and Education Department to develop a more sustainable model while maintaining a focus on safety.

MAV president Bill McArthur said crossing supervisors and contributions to the State Emergency Service were among many areas where councils were paying more.

“[School crossing supervisors] began as a joint 50-50 funding split in 1975, but now only 20 per cent of costs is covered by the state, with councils contributing $44 million a year,’’ he said.

“Councils have been caught in a Catch-22 for years: increase rates to keep funding these important services or face misdirected community anger if they cease.”

Cr McArthur said the MAV had been “chipping away” to achieve better deals.

“But these are sensitive to political cycles,” he said.

“We are hopeful we can get these services back to 50-50 arrangements, ensuring communities aren’t without the services they rely on.”

Macedon Ranges council chief executive Peter Johnston said the council remained committed to providing a quality school- crossing program.

“However, over the years council has picked up more and more of the cost of providing the program,” he said.

“Council welcomes a conversation with government bodies such as VicRoads on how the funding model for the school-crossing program can be improved going forward.”

Mr Johnston said the recent introduction of rate-rise capping meant the council might need to reduce support for programs that were mostly the responsibility of other levels of government.

VicRoads acting operation services director Nicki Kyriakou said the review would examine costs and operational times of the service.

Eligibility criteria and extra safety measures at schools would also be looked at, as experts considered interstate and overseas models.

“VicRoads is committed to providing a subsidy to the school crossing program and will continue to work with all stakeholders as part of the statewide review,” she said.

The review is expected to be completed by the end of the year.