Project developments shape LGASA reflection

Local Government Association of South Australia President Kym McHugh has taken a look back on local government achievements over the previous year.

Mr McHugh gave a review outlining challenges and programs the LGA assisted with local governments inside and outside the state.

Main points included subsidies from state and federal levels, education workshops and technology investment upgrades.

Regarding the Queensland floods early in the year, South Australian councils involved themselves with emergency response.

“Despite problems at home, South Australian Councils rallied round, working with the LGA and Adelaide City Council, to send an emergency contingent of volunteers to assist our Queensland colleagues,” Mr McHugh said.

Mr McHugh said member councils were invited to participate in 68 projects under the Local Excellence – Councils Working Together for Communities program.

He said projects included social media best practices, improved asset management and red tape reduction.

“The LGA is now working to match councils to projects for pilot studies to assist in the eventual roll out to all councils,” he said.

Regional work includes the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies’ (SACES) Local Government Research and Development Scheme projects aimed at quantifying contributions each region makes to the State and National economy.

Mr McHugh said the LGA has written to each Regional Development Australia Committee seeking their involvement with the project.

“Results from the project (data) will be a useful tool for the LGA and councils when preparing case-based submissions to government,” he said.

According to Mr McHugh, $200 million will be made available to eligible projects in the second round of the Regional Development Australia Fund, with four South Australian councils receiving over $15 million from the first round.

Following the Statewide Wind Farms Development Plan Amendment, Development Assessment Panel Members and planners were invited to an LGA hosted Education and Training Forum to assist councils to interpret and apply the wind farm policy.

“Concerns expressed included issues of distance from towns and houses of wind farm developments, noise, wind factor, visual amenity, hazard management and the impact on agricultural land,” Mr McHugh said.

South Australia’s federal funding was uniformed with other states through the extension of the Supplementary Local Road Funding ‘patch’ for a further three years.

According to Mr McHugh, the extension means more than $50 million to SA councils to maintain 74000 kilometres of local roads valued at about $8 million.

“This highlights the importance of direct and indirect Commonwealth funding for councils.

“SA Councils could not deliver the range of services and infrastructure to communities without the Commonwealth support we receive which on average is 12 per cent of council expenditure,” Mr McHugh said.

Mr McHugh said he signed a ten year agreement for library public funding securing more than $185 million in state subsidy for public libraries, with an expected investment of more than $570 million from councils over the same time.

Technology investment for libraries included the One Library Management System (One LMS), which will connect all of the state’s 134 public libraries over the next three years.

Mr McHugh said the selected tenderer for the One LMS was global software provider SirsiDynix, with a contract saving $2.6 million on purchase costs estimated in the original business case.

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