NSW merger funding lauded
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.