Southland mayors say Government funding throughout the region can be improved and put to better use.
The Regional Government Expenditure report was released this week and provides 2011-12 estimates of central government spending throughout the regions.
Southland received $1.6 billion, or 2 per cent, of the Government's $79b total expenditure.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the report includes all Government expenditure, from roads and hospitals to social welfare and education.
"The results in the [report] show that regional expenditure broadly reflects the size of the population in each region," Mr Joyce said.
In Southland, social welfare, health and education received the most funding (totalling $1.1b, or 69 per cent). However, retiring Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno said rural areas needed to be recognised as "the economic backbone" of the country.
"[Funding for] roading infrastructure has declined - those roads keep New Zealand afloat," she said.
Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks echoed this sentiment saying the way roading was funded in the region could be improved.
"Who funds the maintenance and upgrading of it . . . it's always been an ongoing challenge."
Mr Hicks also said the way social services were being developed had caused some confusion.
"I'd like to understand that a little better. There is an opportunity for some co-operation at a local level and [this has] led me to believe that value for money can be better [used] at the local level. Local problems should be solved by local people."
Mrs Cardno also felt more investment was needed in rural projects. "We used to have investment in rural community development projects. Things like Stadium Southland, which is such a benefit to our community, should have investment so we can have a higher quality of life. A little help now would make such a difference."
Michael Schwer is a journalism student at SIT
- © Fairfax NZ News
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