Councils surveyed on impact of NSW government shifting costs to local governments

Ross Earl, General Manager of the Bourke Shire Council, writes on matters affecting the Far West.

Local Government New South Wales is again asking all its member councils to complete a cost-shifting survey, which is aimed at trying to identify and quantify the cost to local government resulting from the gradual shifting of costs from the State Government over a number of years.

In some instances these costs have resulted from legislative change. In other instances councils are now required to meet expenditure which was previously a function of the state, and also where the real-term level of contribution or in some instances where local government has been forced to supplement the contribution of the state to ensure the level of services to the community is equitable to other areas in the state.

The previous cost-shifting survey shows the additional expenditure incurred by Bourke Shire Council as a result of cost shifting totals around $1 million while over the OROC Region (excluding Mid-Western Regional Council) it was over $12.5 million.

Western division.  Mayor Barry Hollman and I travelled to Broken Hill last week to attend an extraordinary meeting of the Western Division shires.

The meeting focused on the preparation of a strategic plan for the organisation recognising that the group had seen its influence as an effective lobby group wane over the past few years.

The meeting was facilitated by Wagga-based consultant Julie Briggs who did a good job in bringing the thoughts of all participating councils to the table.

The outcomes of the meeting, which will form the basis of the strategic plan, will be circulated to all member councils for their comment and endorsement.

Advocacy, intergovernmental collaboration, resource sharing and funding of the organisation were key issues for all attendees.

A dinner was held after the meeting at the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill.

The hotel was the location for a number of scenes for the movie “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” which, by coincidence, I saw the previous Saturday at “Flicks in the Sticks”, which was hosted by the Bourke Arts Council.