NSW Government announces review of funding models for local councils

THE NSW Government will implement a review of the financial model for local government to address rising cost pressures facing councils across the state.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has been tasked with assessing council resources and how well they are able to cover operating expenses as well as fund community services and infrastructure.

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“The financial sustainability of councils is one of the most significant issues facing local government in this state,” Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig said.

“With the cost of delivering core services to communities rising, it’s critically important councils are financially sustainable, but that needs to be balanced with the impact on tightening household budgets.”

The NSW Labor Government sees this as a significant step in delivering on their election campaign commitment.

Port Stephens Council General Manager Tim Crosdale welcomed the review.

“Port Stephens Council welcomes any review aimed at improving the financial sustainability of councils for the delivery of essential public services to the community.”

IPART will consider and recommend improvements on matters including the visibility of councillors and the community over the financial and operational performance of their councils, whether the current budget and financial processes of councils are delivering value for money for ratepayers and residents, and whether the current funding model will sustainably support the needs of communities.

The review will also consider whether councillors and council staff have the financial capacity and capability to meet current and future needs of communities, and how better planning and reporting systems can improve long-term budget performance, transparency and accountability to the community.

“There needs to be a closer examination so that the solution to financial challenges is not increasing revenue through raising council rates or seeking financial support from the State Government,” Minister Hoenig said.

Those interested in the terms of reference for this review can read it online at https://www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/Home/Industries/Local-Government/Review-of-council-financial-model-in-NSW.

By Lindsay HALL

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