10 May 2023
Nothing worthy of celebration in Budget
Those of you who were able to watch Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers hand down the Budget last night will already know that while the news was certainly not terrible for councils, there was nothing worthy of major celebration either.
The difficult economic environment means the Government has not delivered on its pre-election promise of “fair increases” to Financial Assistance Grants, which equalled 1% of the national tax take on their introduction and have now been eroded to 0.5%.
However, this campaign spearheaded by ALGA is a long game, and we will continue to work with the Commonwealth to achieve a fairer deal for the nation’s councils. The breakdown for NSW in 2023-24 will be $674.4 million for the general purpose component of the grants, and $277 million for the local road component, making a total of $951.4 million.
Other Budget highlights included $466.4 million in road funding allocation for NSW councils, through the Roads to Recovery Program ($132.7 million), the Bridges Renewal Program ($20.8 million), Identified Local Roads Grants ($277 million) and the Black Spots Program ($35.9 million). We are pleased to see the continuation of the $200 million Disaster Ready Fund, a new Flood Warning Infrastructure Network Remediation, and a new $10 million National Waste Education campaign.
For more information on the impacts of the Federal Budget, check out our feature story in this week’s edition.
Emergency Services Levy Update
I’ve heard from a number of you during the past week as you have been receiving your Emergency Service Levy (ESL) invoices from the NSW Government and it is clear that the impact has been even more severe than any of us anticipated.
This ESL decision has been a poor start by the new State Government. There was no consultation with us, and early signs are that they now realise it has been something of an own goal.
Media coverage has been strongly in our favour, but it’s vital that we speak with one voice to keep up the pressure to seek urgent action from the NSW Government.
Today I’m encouraging each council to pass a mayoral minute and write to the NSW Government and your local State MP on this matter. I also suggest you write to IPART to highlight the financial sustainability impact of this policy decision on your council.
Our advocacy team has drafted downloadable mayoral minute and letter templates for use and I would strongly urge you to do so.
The Mayoral Minute calls on the NSW Government to take immediate action to:
- restore the ESL subsidy in 2023/24
- urgently introduce legislation to decouple the ESL from the rate peg to enable councils to recover the full cost, and
- develop a fairer, more transparent and financially sustainable method of funding critically important emergency services in consultation with local government.
Thanks for your ongoing support with this important piece of advocacy, and a special shoutout to Cumberland City Mayor Lisa Lake, who was first out of the blocks with the passage of a similar Mayoral Minute last week.
We have secured a meeting with Treasurer Daniel Mookhey to discuss this issue, and I will keep all members informed.
Vacant Position on Local Government Procurement Board
LGNSW is commencing recruitment to fill a vacancy on the Board of Local Government Procurement. Councillors with previous experience as a director of an ASIC regulated company and strong legal, commercial and strategic procurement skills are encouraged to apply.
Prospective applicants must obtain an information pack containing the application form and further details about the position by emailing Bilyana Mitrevski at LGNSW.
Applications close midnight 31 May 2023.
Local Government ageing strategies
Last week I met with the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing (MACA). We canvassed several issues including an overview of the updated Age-Friendly Toolkit for NSW Local Government, which aims to help local councils plan for, and support, our ageing population. Other topics discussed included the development of council ageing strategies and how LGNSW can assist with making our communities more inclusive for all.
I also want to publicly thank the Chair of the Advisory Committee, Kathryn Greiner AO who is stepping down after 10 years of service - her commitment and dedication to the cause of older people throughout NSW has been extraordinary.
Women in local government
I’m an ardent supporter of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) which seeks to strengthen networking, mentoring and innovative opportunities that encourage and support women in local government.
Last week it elected a new board, and I am happy to say that three members of the LGNSW board are now on the board of ALGWA.
Warmest congratulations to all those elected to the ALGWA Board, including LGNSW Board Directors and Councillors Karen McKeown OAM of Penrith City Council, Julie Griffiths of Blacktown City Council and Penny Pedersen of the City of Ryde Council.
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