MAV seeks election commitment on funding arrangements

By Angela Dorizas

Councils in Victoria have delivered their list of demands to major political parties in the lead up to the November 27 state election.

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) released on Monday a document outlining its 46 priority policy commitments sought by local government.

MAV president Bill McArthur said top of the list was local government funding.

“Number one is financial sustainability,” Cr McArthur told Government News.

“That is particularly important for rural councils at the moment.

“Underlying that, we’re looking for a whole of government commitment to the Victorian state-local government agreement that underpins the interaction between the two levels.”

Cr McArthur said it was vital councils receive adequate funding for a range of local programs including aged and community care, kindergartens and public libraries.

MAV has also called for local government’s current reporting and regulatory burden to be reduced.

Cr McArthur said the new Essential Services Commission performance monitoring framework for local government would “financially unbalance” the sector.

Allen Consulting has estimated that the total cost to councils would be between $3.1 million and $7.1 million, with rural councils expected to bear a disproportionately higher cost burden.

Cr McArthur called on the State Government to review current reporting arrangements, and any duplication or overlap, before introducing a new reporting regime.

“We’ve had a running battle over this,” he said.

“We already report on a large range of issues to the State Government and we’re not sure where a lot of that reporting goes.

“We’ve called on the Government to reduce substantially, or to review, the reporting arrangements before they initiate new reporting requirements.”

MAV has also called on major parties to redress the erosion of councils’ planning powers; further funding and resources for fire prevention activities; introduce a tripartite government agreement to ensure aged and community care programs are appropriately funded; provide adequate infrastructure for councils to deliver 15-week kinder programs; invest in public libraries; provide councils with access to expertise to build understanding of climate change impacts and funding to help meet the significant up-front capital costs of climate change responses; and accelerated funding for transport infrastructure, including renewal of the Local Roads to Market program.

Cr McArthur said the State Government and Opposition had already addressed a few priority policy commitments through recent announcements, but local government was awaiting a written response from both sides.

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