This past month has seen both Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) hold their annual conferences.
A key theme has been the management of funding shortfalls.
LGAQ has launched the Better Councils Better Communities project to help Queensland councils improve their productivity, while also taking a firm stand against cuts to Royalties for Regions and the Financial Assistance Grants.
LGNSW also opposed the Financial Assistance Grants cuts at its conference.
The expectation however still exists from communities and other levels of government that councils will continue to deliver the same services.
On a national level, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has responded to the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report on Natural Disaster funding.
While the ALGA supported some of the recommendations, they expressed their concern that councils may struggle to meet the proposed increased funding levels.
The report recognised the major role that local governments play mitigating and repairing the effects of natural disasters on local communities, however this role will be difficult to fill if councils do not have the funding required.
For councils with a small rate base and large land area, this will no doubt be a major concern.
Also discussed at the LGNSW conference was the Fit for the Future reform package, which sees significant incentives for councils electing to amalgamate.
The incentives are significant and must look tempting to councils struggling financially.
There may be little option for some if the financial pressures being passed down from the state and Federal Government become too much.