UPDATED 1pm with comment from RDV
Ballarat's closest neighbour is experiencing similar, if not greater growth, but is being left with the crumbs when it comes to state government grant funding - its leaders are pleading for support.
Moorabool Shire Council's chief executive is calling for Regional Development Victoria to review its grant process.
Statistics from the state's Auditor-General revealed residents were receiving just $15 each in state grant money, at a time when the shire's population is projected to grow by 36 per cent.
Data shows that in total, the City of Ballarat received $94.51 million in grants for 63 projects, while the peri-urban Moorabool, which includes Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, Gordon and Elaine, received just $4.75 million for 25 projects.
Golden Plains, to the south, received $16.64 million for 23 projects.
Derek Madden, the shire's new chief executive, said Moorabool deserved a fair go.
"It's time that Moorabool asks for its fair share as well from the state government," he said.
Last week, state Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford defended RDV's record after the Auditor-General released a scathing report about whether or not the agency had "improved economic or social outcomes directly or indirectly, or whether any benefits have been sustained beyond the immediate injection of funds into a community".
Mr Madden said his local government area was rapidly expanding, particularly to the east as Melbourne's sprawl creeps further out.
He said there have been projects on the minister's desk since the state election, and he had received no word on whether there would be any support from RDV's Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund.
This could affect towns like Ballan and lead to businesses leaving the area, he warned, unless infrastructure projects received commitments.
"We currently have a grant pending for about $400,000, gas connections and significant road works, and we're looking at one of the main employers in that area, a window manufacturer, they're looking to expand but they can't until they get the connections," Mr Madden explained.
"We're stuck between two seats, and we're not getting anything - it's quite clear, whether we look at the RJIF or RGF (Regional Growth Fund), either way, Moorabool has historically received less funding than any other councils.
"We're more Melbourne-centric which is where the population growth's coming from."
Minister Pulford said last week taken in isolation, the report did appear to show more heading towards Ballarat and Geelong, but added you only had to look at previous funding cycles to find other regions that had previously been beneficiaries.
A number of projects included in the fund were funded through multiple local government areas, she said, but the reporting showed they were delivered to specific shires, which was where the project would be based.
A spokesperson for Regional Development Victoria said the agency gives "proper consideration to all proposals to test their potential to grow local jobs and strengthen our regional communities".
"RDV also works with local government beyond providing project funding - for example, developing a business case and involving other Victorian Government agencies to bring Moorabool Shire's Parwan Employment Precinct to life," they said.
Since 2015, the Victorian Government has also been investing in a range of infrastructure projects outside of the RJIF program to support Moorabool's growing population such as the $518 million Ballarat-line upgrade which includes upgraded stations at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan; $3 million for a new ambulance branch in Bacchus Marsh and school upgrades including $8 million for Bacchus Marsh College.
Moorabool Shire has also identified a number of large infrastructure projects required to support its growing population, and the majority of these projects are Sport and Recreation focused and therefore fall outside of RDV's funding criteria. The State Government provided $1.6 million from the Community Sport Infrastructure Loans scheme in October 2018 to support Moorabool Shire to install competition standard lighting on ovals at Ballan, Gordon, Wallace, Bungaree, and Dunnstown Recreation Reserves.
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