Better funding plan needed for local government

By Lilia Guan

The president of the NSW Shires Association, Bruce Miller, has confirmed national media reports of NSW Opposition Leader’s election pledge to provide up to $1 billion for local infrastructure upgrades.

Barry O’Farrell’s declaration was made at the annual Local Government Association Conference, held in Albury this week.
Cr Miller said the loan was a step in the right direction, but  “throwing money” at local government wasn't a long-term solution.

“It’s a loan and has to be repaid, which could prove to be difficult for smaller councils,” he said.

“I believe councils need a long-term fund infrastructure renewal plan to help local government invest in infrastructure.”

While Cr Miller remained cautious about local government receiving more money, the Urban Taskforce urged councils to take up the offer presented to them.

The Taskforce’s chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said the fund appeared to be about providing high priority urban infrastructure.

“New local roads, roundabouts, bridges and playgrounds are necessary to help manage population growth and demographic change,” Mr Gadiel said.

The rate would apparently be half of the NSW government bond rate at a cost of $70 million over four years, he said.

The Coalition also promised a state-wide audit to identify infrastructure projects across local council areas.

Mr Gadiel said the scheme would leave local councils with no excuse for sitting on the development levies they’ve collected from home buyers.

“Councils have previously claimed that they could not spend up to one billion dollars in development levies because the money was tied to specific projects, and they lacked the cash to fully fund their construction,” he said.

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