SA councils budget for sustainability

South Australian metropolitan councils have found an ongoing commitment to sustainability in their annual budgets.

The draft annual business plans show funding plans for roads, footpaths, waste management, sporting facilities and libraries.

Local Government Association CEO Wendy Campana said the commitment has been seen in recycling, stormwater harvesting, and initiatives related to climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

“Maintenance and renewal of local infrastructure is the biggest challenge for councils with depreciation of assets accounting for almost one quarter of council operating expenses,” Ms Campana said.

Proposed expenditure for 2011 and 2012 includes recreational facilities, parks, reserves, stormwater drainage, urban development, community services, water conservation and environmental programs.

An increasing number of metropolitan councils are projected to deliver surplus budgets.

“We should be aiming to pay our way and not leave problems for our children,” Ms Campana said.

According to Ms Campana, local government debt levels are very low considering the extent of infrastructure managed, even though the debt is expected to increase significantly from helping underwrite the Federal Government’s economic stimulus packages.

“There is no doubt that councils are facing major financial challenges and are walking a tight line in maintaining standards of living, limiting rate rises as far as possible, and avoiding pushing repair work on infrastructure onto the next generation,” she said.

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