NSW merger fund­ing lauded

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By ANNE GART­NER

WA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Troy Pickard says a $1 bil­lion com­mit­ment by the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment for coun­cil merg­ers high­lights the lack of fund­ing pro­vided by the WA Gov­ern­ment for its process.

The NSW Gov­ern­ment’s $1 bil­lion fund­ing is aimed at en­cour­ag­ing its lo­cal gov­ern­ments to merge, with $153 mil­lion ded­i­cated to Syd­ney metropoli­tan coun­cils.

In con­trast, the WA Gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing $60 mil­lion for metropoli­tan coun­cil re­form, $15 mil­lion of which will be pro­vided in grants and $45 mil­lion as low-in­ter­est loans.

“The NSW Gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment demon­strates a clearer un­der­stand­ing on the true cost of re­form and the need for strong and prop­erly re­sourced lo­cal gov­ern- ments to help build the State,” Mr Pickard said.

“It is time for our own State Gov­ern­ment to take stock of the mount­ing ev­i­dence and grow­ing sup­port for re­al­is­tic fund­ing of the Western Aus­tralian re­form process.”

How­ever, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Tony Simp­son said the WA pack­age equated to about $2 mil­lion for each of the 30 coun­cils and was com­pa­ra­ble to the roughly $3.73 mil- lion pro­vided for each of Syd­ney’s 41 coun­cils.

When in­clud­ing the num­ber of res­i­dents per coun­cil, he said the WA fund­ing of­fered about $31.97 per per­son, while NSW fund­ing pro­vided about $34.55 per per­son.

“The WA Gov­ern­ment is mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the cost of metropoli­tan lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form,” he said.

“It would be won­der­ful if this State could af­ford a much big­ger fund­ing pack­age, but sadly, the loss of GST rev­enue has a big im­pact here.”

Mr Pickard said WALGA re­search sug­gested the av­er­age cost of merg­ers would be be­tween $4.1 mil­lion and $7.2 mil­lion per amal­ga­ma­tion.

“Coun­cils will soon face the prospect of ei­ther in­creas­ing rev­enue through rates and charges, or cut­ting back on ba­sic ser­vices to fund re­form,” he said.

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