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|Editions > 2006 > November||Saturday May 25, 2013 - Melbourne Time: 13:11:31|
South Australian Councils back united approach to financial sustainability
More than 200 delegates attended the Local Government Association of South Australia's (LGASA) Annual General Meeting in October. Following reports on both Council and LGA progress, delegates supported the LGA's ongoing Financial Sustainability Program.
The program followed a 2005 independent inquiry, which found many South Australian Councils would become unsustainable if action was not taken. LGASA has since received a National Local Government Award for establishing the inquiry, which has been repeated in New South Wales and Western Australia.
LGASA's Director Policy and Public Affairs, Chris Russell, said that although the LGA received the national award, the level of response from Councils was much more rewarding.
"Council involvement is important to share knowledge of project outcomes and what has been learnt," he said.
He reported to delegates that a survey of Councils has showed that 95 per cent of Councils have now considered, or are in the process of considering the inquiry report with a view to adopting recommendations relevant to their particular circumstances.
"Some 72 per cent of Councils are also developing or renewing their financial management plans, while 89 per cent of Councils are developing or reviewing their asset management policies," he said. "Councils and the LGA have done a lot of work, but don't be blind - there is still a lot of work to do."
Some $350,000 of projects supporting Councils to improve financial governance have already been approved by the Local Government Research and Development Scheme and a further $800,000 over three years is being considered.
LGASA Executive Director, Wendy Campana, examined the position of the other States in relation to financial sustainability, concluding that there was a common pattern across the nation.
"Everyone is now working on financial sustainability inquiries," she said. "The genie has been let out of the bottle and it was South Australia that let it out."
She said that one way Councils can work towards financial sustainability is by becoming more strategic with their borrowing.
"The Commonwealth Government has been very generous with the Roads to Recovery program," Wendy Campana said. "I believe this is due to the amount of accolades they receive through signage and media coverage. On the other hand, the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGS) program does not provide this level of recognition and may be a key reason as to why it does not receive as much attention. We need to find ways to give the Federal Government more recognition. Through messages on rates notices and signs on new buildings we could achieve this."
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