More money for roads, footpaths and cycleways tops the wish list for NSW councils ahead of the release of Tuesday’s state budget, which will focus on job-creating infrastructure projects.
LGNSW’s budget submission leverages on the need for a locally-led recovery from drought, bushfires and the pandemic and calls on the NSW government to follow the lead of the recent federal budget in funding economic stimulus and job creation.
The government has already flagged that infrastructure projects including train station and road upgrades will be a key focus of the budget, which will be delivered by Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday.
LGNSW is also hoping to see investment in water security, open spaces, emergency management, tourism, waste management and recycling, better building standards, affordable housing, mental health, ePlanning, arts and early childhood education and care, as well as reducing the cost of local government elections.
“The November 17 state budget is an opportunity for the NSW government to … put our state in the vanguard of economic recovery,” LGNSW President Linda Scott said.
What councils want
The submission calls for $1 billion for road safety over the next five years and a 2 per cent increase in road block grant funding.
It wants $600 million to fix combustible cladding on private residential buildings, $250 million or a second round of the NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program, $100 million for funding for outdoor dining, cultural and business spaces and beach crowd management and $50 million for tourism infrastructure.
LGNSW wants the $800 million waste levy reinvested into an overhaul of recycling and waste management and $1 billion for the Safe and Secure Water Program.
On the community welfare front, the submission calls for $2 billion for 5,000 social housing units, $50,000 per council a year for youth and community post-disaster wellbeing and $6.4 million a year over four years for council disability plans.
Finally, NSW councils want $40 million for development and implementation of eplanning. The state government has already announced almost $56 million for the next phase of the transition to funding for ePlanning.
Other budget priorities include adequate and ongoing Joint Organisation funding, emergency services funding reform, abolishing rate pegging and reform of the rating system.
“The 2020-21 State Budget is a prime opportunity to further cement this leadership, via collaborative and constructive partnerships between all levels of Government,” the submission says.
Trains and roads
The government on Friday announced more than $190 million to improve train stations for commuters, including $112 million for upgrades at five train stations and $80 million for future upgrades under the Transport Access Program.
“The projects funded include upgrades at Doonside, Turrella, Killara, Junee and Cootamundra which will create around 400 jobs. On top of that, Moss Vale and Tuggerah stations will also see planning commence,” Transport minister Andrew Constance said.
The budget will also tackle road safety with a focus on two of the state’s crash black spots.
Mr Constance has announced $35 million in planning money for the duplication of Heathcote Road and another $44 million in planning money for the duplication of Picton Road.
“Duplicating Heathcote Road will significantly improve safety for the 36,000 drivers who use the road every day,” Mr Constance said.
“We need to get this road right to accommodate future growth from the Illawarra to Western Sydney, and to ensure we have the right infrastructure in place for generations to come.”
The funding for the Picton Road duplication in the Wollongong and Wollondilly areas will be delivered over the next four years.
The Picton Road strategic business case, including preferred upgrades, is due to be completed in the second half of 2021. Once completed, work will start on concept and detailed design.
Early work, for the already funded upgrade on Heathcote Road between Holsworthy and Voyager Point, is expected to start in early 2021, with major work planned to commence in September 2021 and completion expected in late 2024.
The post COVID budget, to be handed down on November 17, is expected to show a deficit of tens of billions of dollars as a result of lower revenue and higher expenses.
Mr Perrottet says borrowing is set to play a bigger role in funding government priorities.
“We see the opportunity to borrow to build the future of the state and stimulate the economy,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
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