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Councils support resourcing package

17 September 2004

Local Government will support a package of legislative and non-legislative proposals to manage the impact of volatile annual property valuations on Council rates and to review the financial sustainability of Local Government.

LGA President Cr John Legoe said there had been a concensus at the meeting that the resourcing issues facing Councils were much broader than the distribution of rates and that both rating and wider issues needed to be addressed.

Cr Legoe said he would meet further with the Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Rory McEwen, in particular to ensure legislative amendments could be in place before the 2005/06 rating period.

Cr Legoe said the key element of the package was the proposal for an independent inquiry into the financial sustainability of Local Government.

"We will be proposing to the Minister's Local Government Forum that an inquiry be commissioned jointly," he said.

"However we were also determined to identify legislative options which could be in place to help Councils manage rates before the 2005/06 rating period," he said.

Cr Legoe said additional work would be undertaken with State Government on options impacting on consultation processes, rating options such as rolling three-year valuations and more flexibility in the use of differential rates, long-term financial planning and infrastructure planning.

He said more work would be done outside legislation on performance measurement and complaints management, development of Local Government costs indices, independent auditing of rates management processes, and on State-Local financial arrangements.

"In particular we will be engaging the Commonwealth more directly during and after the election to put an end to unfair treatement of SA Councils in distribution of Federal funds," he said.

"I need to be very clear that there is no free lunch - people cannot have improved recycling services, new immunisations, better maintained roads and internet in libraries if the services are not paid for."

Local Government only raises 3% of all tax in Australia so other Governments will play a key role in determining whether local services and infrastructure in SA are maintained and improved or whether they decline and undermine economic, environmental and social development in this State.

The LGA State Executive Committee was particularly concerned to ensure that proper modelling is done on redistribution options so everyone understands who will pay more and who will pay less.

"The majority of options which have been aired to date would see less rates paid by wealthier people and more paid by less wealthy people," Cr Legoe said.

There are no magic or simple solutions to the resourcing challenges for local services - there is a lot of hard work to be done.

"What is clear is that Local Government is committed to leaving no stone unturned in addressing the concerns which have been raised."

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