Wednesday, 30 October 2019 12:15

Independent review needed to fund new communities

Media release, 24 October, 2019 

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) is calling on the NSW Government for an independent review of the financial and funding arrangements between local government and the NSW and Commonwealth Governments, following the release of the NSW Review of Federal Financial Relations paper this week by an independent expert panel.

WSROC President, Cr Barry Calvert, stated “Treasurer Perrottet’s interest in creating better value for taxpayers through a funding review is most timely. WSROC agrees that the limitations of complicated funding arrangements and partnerships fosters instability and uncertainty, which can and must be improved.

“The task set before this independent, expert panel ­­- to find a fairer, more efficient system of funding - applies even more so to the state and federal financial arrangements that impact local government.

“Local government has laboured long under the strain of limited finances and decades of cost-shifting. WSROC has previously called for reviews of funding mechanisms, as local governments continue to struggle to deliver essential services in the context of rate capping, rapid growth and abrupt change,” said Cr Calvert.

“The NSW Government’s sudden increase to the Emergency Services Levy, - subsequently deferred for a year to alleviate adverse impact on councils - is just one example of the unpredictable financial forces currently in play.

“In Western Sydney, councils are struggling to contain costs, made worse by arbitrary constraints on the ability to levy fees and charges, while continuing to deliver services that are essential to our communities,” he said.

“We too are contending with the challenges presented by an aging population, emerging work patterns and technological advances. We too are keen to investigate options for a fairer, more efficient and reliable system of funding, to deliver essential services and infrastructure.

“The current backlogs in Western Sydney for unfunded infrastructure – which includes roads, bridges, facilities, amenities – are years in arrears. Road dependency, non-existent public transport links, outdated waste management solutions all remain somewhere in the pipeline, or up in the air.

“There is no foreseeable hope of funding these essential projects and services in key growth areas. This does not bode well for current and future communities of the Central and Western Parklands Cities,” said Cr Calvert.

“Just as NSW Government feels the pressing need to clarify, resolve and improve financial relations in relation to the next tier of government, so too does local government; more so, because of our limited capacity to instigate such a process,” he said.

“The current IPART Reviews into local government, while necessary, are too limited in scope – focusing only on the local government rating system, reporting and compliance costs.  The challenge for an independent review would be in identifying options that improve the system while at the same time promoting a stable and reliable revenue base, to fund essential services and infrastructure.

“WSROC is specifically calling on the NSW Government to also task the independent expert panel for a thorough review of the Commonwealth and state funding arrangements for local government. An independent review will encourage reform across all three levels of government, and ultimately, deliver better value for taxpayers/ratepayers,” said Cr Calvert.

 

[ENDS]

Media contact: Kate O'Connell, 02 9671 4333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 November 2019 12:10

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