NSW planning guidelines receive warm reception

By Staff Writer

The New South Wales Local Government and Shires Associations (LGSA) have welcomed a draft bill that will require councils to develop 10-year financial plans.

Local Government Association president Cr Genia McCaffery said the integrated planning and reporting guidelines will offer councils a clear framework for identifying and responding to community priorities.

“The guidelines take into consideration the issues and pressures in a community and the resources that councils and their communities will be able to provide to achieve their aims,” Cr McCaffery said.

“The staged implementation over the next three years might provide some help to under-resourced councils, who now must find both the funds and the personnel to implement this new system.”

Shires Association president Cr Bruce Miller said local government had significantly contributed to the draft guidelines.
“The Allen report, which we commissioned, certainly gave some impetus to the process,” Cr Miller added.

“Local government has come a long way in terms of strategic planning, but there is still room for improvement and this offers us the opportunity to take the next step.”

Under the proposed guidelines, each council will be required to develop a strategic plan setting out its priorities for the next 10 years; an action plan showing how these priorities will be delivered during the council’s four-year term; and an operational plan showing how the revenue will be obtained to fund the projects.

They will also have to develop a strategy outlining how they will manage resources, including property, investments and personnel.

At the end of its four-month term, each outgoing council will have to demonstrate how it has implemented its long-term plans.

Local Government Minister Barbara Perry said the new laws aim to encourage all councils to put in place “hard-headed” financial planning and reporting systems.

The LGSA will consult with member councils before providing its submission to the Department of Local Government.

Related Story: NSW councils to rein in spending

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