Cost of Reform

Article image - Cost of Reform WALGA President, Mayor Troy Pickard.

The Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) have highlighted the announcement by the New South Wales Government of $1 billion in funding for its reform agenda, demonstrates a serious shortfall of funding for WA reform.

In contrast, the allocated funding for WA reform is $15 million.

“The New South Wales Government’s announcement demonstrates a clearer understanding of the true cost of reform and the need for strong and properly resourced Local Governments to help build the state,” said WALGA President, Mayor Troy Pickard.

“It is time for our own State Government to take stock of the mounting evidence and growing support for realistic funding of the Western Australian reform process.

“Local communities will ultimately pay the price for the State Government’s intransigence and inability to comprehend the financial predicament Local Governments are facing.”

WALGA has estimated the total cost for reform will be $100 million.

The New South Wales Government’s package, called Fit for the Future, includes a $258 million cash component for Councils who decide to merge.

This equates to nearly $1.7 million for each individual Local Government.

The WA State Government’s current cash offer of $15 million will provide just $500,000 per metropolitan Local Government.

WALGA’s research, based on the costs of reform in other states and regional Western Australia, shows the average cost to be between $4.1 million and $7.2 million per amalgamation.

“The Association has long been advocating for a more realistic funding package for Local Governments,” Mayor Pickard said.

“The majority of the community also believes the State Government should bear the costs of reform.

“Councils will soon face the prospect of either increasing revenue through rates and charges, or cutting back on basic services to fund reform.”

The WA Local Government Association’s annual community survey found 70 per cent of respondents expect the State Government to cover all costs incurred through the reform process.

“This situation will be made worse in the likely event that Local Governments will be forced to access the $45 million in low interest loans being offered by the Government instead of the additional funds required.

“The State Government needs to take heed of the New South Wales’ example as additional evidence that they have seriously misjudged the true costs of reform.”