By Angela Dorizas in Cairns
The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has requested a further $150 million from state government to cover the additional expenses of council amalgamations.
LGAQ president Cr Paul Bell told delegates at the association’s annual conference that councils across the state were “far from sustainable” and required state government assistance.
“There are eight councils now on a financial watch list and our revenues as we enter this new sphere of government are only just growing a tick above the CPI,” Cr Bell said.
“But our costs continue to grow at an alarming rate. Amalgamations can not and will not close that gap.
“Much more needs to be done sooner rather than later.”
QLD Premier Anna Bligh and Minister for Main Roads and Local Government, Warren Pitt, told Government News that they were ready to listen to individual councils seeking further financial assistance.
“Queensland taxpayers have already put $23 billion dollars into local governments to help them cope with their transition costs of amalgamation,” Ms Bligh said.
“There are some councils who have already realised efficiencies and are financially stronger as a result.
“There are some councils that might need a bit more help. What I have said is come and show us, come and tell us the story and we will plan to help you.”
The Premier said the Department of Local Government had already received, and were currently assessing, submissions from two small councils.
“I think people understand that if you bring together a number of councils there might be some upfront costs and then there are long term savings and you have got to balance that,” Ms Bligh said.
“I think taxpayers do expect that long term savings will be realised, but everybody knows they won’t be realised overnight.
“We have tried to be fair.”
Cr Bell said state government needed to present evidence of further financial assistance to local government.
“We don’t see where there is an allocation in the budget,” Cr Bell said.
“What we are saying is we need to see something. Our figures are around about $150 million over the next three years.”
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