Have Your Say on local government reform

24 March 2014

AlburyCity’s Finance and Administration Committee has endorsed a draft submission to the Division of Local Government responding to the Independent Local Government Review Panel report Revitalising Local Government.

In its draft response AlburyCity has outlined its objection to any proposed amalgamations in the Albury Local Government Area, citing the potential cost to ratepayers as the main reason for its objection. AlburyCity also does not support the proposal for the mandatory direct election of Mayors in councils with a population of 40,000 or more. The Committee believes that the status quo should remain which would allow individual councils to decide whether direct elections or Councillor elections of Mayors is appropriate for its city.

Deputy Mayor and Finance and Administration Committee Chair Cr Henk van de Ven said that change was needed in the sector, but forced amalgamations were not the answer.

“Based on the experience of the previous two boundary changes between Albury and the former Hume Shire it’s not something that we would support at this time,” he said. “The costs and logistics involved with absorbing sections of another Council will be too much of a burden on our ratepayers and we will not be supporting this proposal.”

“The sector needs to become more financially sustainable but ratepayers shouldn’t have to pick up the bill.”

“We believe that the proposals for Joint Organisations and Regional Centres are good ones. Many issues we face cross boundaries so if we can work more closely with our regional neighbours then we will be much better equipped to deal with the challenges facing the sector. This proposal will generate greater efficiency amongst regional Councils and ultimately lead to better financial sustainability across the sector.”

AlburyCity will also make a submission to the Local Government Acts Taskforce responding to its review of the Local Government Act. AlburyCity is supportive of the taskforce’s report A New Local Government Act for NSW and agrees with its recommendation to update the Local Government Act to outline a new legislative framework for the role of councils and how they should be established and operate.

The submission also outlines support for the introduction of postal voting and the use of new technologies in local government elections, the replacement of rate pegging with rate benchmarking and the ability for councils to form statutory entities to undertake regional strategic collaboration activities.

You can view the draft submissions via this link

Proposals supported by AlburyCity

  • Strengthening the sector’s revenue base by reviewing the rating system.
  • Introducing a Deputy Mayoral allowance recognising the additional workload of the Deputy who attends functions and meetings if the Mayor is unavailable.
  • Support for the concept of Joint Organisations, established as an ‘auspice body’ rather than a new legal entity to avoid the embedding of a new layer of bureaucracy into Local Government. This would include the establishment of regional water alliances allowing each Council to retain its water and sewerage assets.
  • Support for the concept of establishing state-wide regional centres that pool the resources across regions to address cross-border issues and challenges facing groups of Councils in each region.

Proposals not supported by AlburyCity

  • The provision of Annual General Meetings. It’s the committee’s view that the presentation of annual financial statements, six monthly report and end of term reports is sufficient.
  • AlburyCity also does not support the proposal for the mandatory direct election of Mayors in councils with a population of 40,000 or more. The committee believes that the status quo should remain which would allow individual councils to decide whether direct elections or Councillor elections of Mayors is appropriate for its city.
  • AlburyCity strongly objects to further amalgamations involving the Albury Local Government Area.