NSW Budget: the impact on local councils

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announcing the 2017 NSW Budget. Pic:YouTube. 



NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has sprinkled some of his budgetary largesse on local councils and stumped up billions for infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, bike paths and sports facilities and set up a new fund to kickstart a regional economic renaissance in the state.

Mr Perrottet’s first budget was fuelled by a $4.5 billion surplus with coffers swollen from the NSW property boom and a major asset sell-off and local government will be more than pleased to rake in some of the spoils gained from stamp duty and the polls and wires sell off.

For the Budget NSW overview click here.

A new $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund has been established, focusing on lifting regional economic growth.

There are six funds, including strands for infrastructure; sports facilities; improving voice and data connectivity; upgrades to parks, community centres and playgrounds and building and upgrading arts and cultural venues.

Another strand also deals specifically with investing in infrastructure for mining communities.

Councils, industry, regional organisations and community groups can apply to the funds, which tie in with the NSW government’s 30-year Regional Development Framework.

Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said the announcement was a positive one for the regions.

“LGNSW looks forward to more information from the Deputy Premier’s office on how this funding will be allocated and the opportunities for our sector, but overall this looks like very good news for regional communities.

“This goes to show that the government does listen when the community speaks, and particularly so when they make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

Central Coast Council Administrator, Ian Reynolds, said as he was particularly pleased with the promise to allocate 30 percent of infrastructure spending to the regions.

“The $6 billion injection is significant and recognises that regions like the coast are attracting more people who are looking for a better lifestyle away from the big cities and require improved infrastructure to meet their growing needs,” Mr Reynolds.

“Roads are a key priority for council because our community wants better roads and it is pleasing to see such a significant injection by the state government into roads here on the coast.”

The regions also won another victory, with the government allocating $100 million for palliative care services and staff training, with much of this expected to flow to rural areas where there have been complaints about the dearth of services available.

In addition, the government will spend $258 million on supporting and regulating local government through the Office of Local Government, including $2.1 million to optimise the Companion Animals Register and Pet Registry to improve user experience and enhance functionality.

But it is not simply a one-way street with all give and no take.

Local councils will feel the heat from Mr Perrottet’s push to accelerate house building in the state, including 30,000 new homes in priority precincts in Sydney.

The NSW government will spend almost $70 million to speed up major development approvals and help councils rezone land quicker, including $19 million to establish a specialist team to rezone and to help councils accelerate rezonings.

Also in the budget is $11.8 million for online, cloud-based housing development applications, especially to help regional councils and small metropolitan councils with low capability.

Other key budget points

  • $4.2 billion over four years for education infrastructure, including building new schools and upgrading others
  • A cash injection of $7.7 billion over four years for new hospitals and hospital upgrades
  • Public transport, road building and rail gets $73 billion, including WestConnex, Sydney Metro City rail line and the Pacific Highway upgrade
  • Spending $20.1 million to complete the Service NSW network of service centres by transitioning 24 motor registries in regional and rural communities to Service NSW service centres.
  • Art Gallery of NSW expansion worth $244 million
  • A $1.2 billion package for first home buyers, including stamp duty relief and heavier foreign investor charges
  • $63.2 million to improve child protection, including additional caseworkers, case managers, and case support workers

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