Cost shifting to councils to continue
The LGA has welcomed the abolishment of the ‘Rubble Royalties’ tax announced as part of the 2018-19 State Budget, but said the Government is still largely failing to honour a pre-election commitment to stop cost shifting to councils.
“Today’s budget is a contradiction to the Government’s claims that they want to reduce council rates, and ease the cost of living,” LGA President Councillor Clearihan said.
“The LGA’s Budget Submission asked the Government to honour their pre-election commitment to stop cost shifting by freezing the Solid Waste Levy at 2017/18 levels, removing the requirement for councils to collect the NRM Levy for the State, scrapping mandatory rates rebates for community housing, and abolishing ‘Rubble Royalties’.”
“Removing ‘Rubble Royalties’ will save ratepayers around $1 million a year by lowering the cost of rural road construction, but we are still stuck with a $4.5 million increase in the Solid Waste Levy this year, and collecting the NRM Levy for the State.”
“Through these levies, as well as mandatory community housing rates rebates, the Government is adding millions of dollars of costs to councils each year – costs that ultimately have to be passed on to rate payers.”
“It’s disappointing that councils will be forced to continue charging their ratepayers fees that the State Government should be taking ownership of. This is especially disappointing coming from a government that wants to cap council rates.”
Introduced in the 2014-15 Budget, ‘Rubble Royalties’ are a royalty councils must pay on rubble taken from roadside borrow pits, and are essentially a tax on regional and remote councils maintaining safe roads.
Councillor Clearihan said that local government reform is a focus for the LGA, and the Association wants to partner with the State Government to further improve the performance of the sector.
“With the budget showing little relief in costs to councils, it’s important that the State Government works alongside the LGA as we examine where we can improve our performance and deliver better value to our communities,” Councillor Clearihan said.
“We’ve proposed a comprehensive sector-wide benchmarking program that would not only improve transparency and accountability, but also allow councils to compare their performance and identify areas for improvement, and we will continue to advocate to the Government to invest in this local government reform and efficiency measure that will benefit communities.”