The Commonwealth will reimburse many councils and ratepayers whose funds were wasted in a fruitless push for recognition.

Millions of dollars were spent by regional councils on campaigns leading-up to the referendum for Constitutional recognition of local government, which was then scrapped following a change of dates for the federal election in September.

Many councillors and staff had pushed for the referendum to be revived or for the money spent campaigning for a “Yes” vote to be paid back.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss says the Government will pick up the tab.

Reports this week say local governments spent around $3.5 million of a $10 million fund put up by the Gillard government to push for a “Yes” vote in the referendum.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) argued for the reimbursement on the grounds that that it would be “inequitable” for regional councils to wear the costs of spending federal money for a futile campaign.

ALGA President Felicity-Ann Lewis said the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss believes ALGA has a “reasonable argument for reimbursement”, and will look to compensate councils “as quickly as it can.”