SA councils respond to sustainability inquiry

By Jane Garcia in Adelaide

Local government representatives gathered in Adelaide for the Local Government Association of South Australia’s (LGA of SA) annual general meeting and associated workshops yesterday and heard about how councils and the Association are continuing the momentum created by the Independent Inquiry into the Financial Sustainability of Local Government held last year,

There were 62 recommendations from the independent inquiry and it provided a "convenient focal point for measurement of improvement by the sector", according to the LGA of SA.

The Association recently conducted an email questionnaire of councils to gage progress on their ability to implement the recommendations. LGA of SA projects manager, Bill Furse, said that 56 councils had responded to the survey so far, with a majority of them reporting they were actively considering the recommendations of the inquiry.

More than 70 per cent of responding councils have adopted or are adopting the definition of financial sustainability as defined at the LGA of SA’s March 2006 meeting. Many are currently reviewing financial practices, including assessing the skills base of staff and developing and adopting long-term financial management plans.

The Association itself has been proactive in implementing the inquiry recommendations, reporting it has completed the implementation of five items, made significant progress on 30 recommendations and was waiting for the survey of councils to inform work on a further 10 items.

The LGA of SA has also worked with Standards Australia to develop new governance guidelines for SA councils. The Australian first guidelines will be presented at today’s (October 20) annual general meeting for approval. The new guidelines deal with auditing processes, good governance principles, frameworks for dealing with roles, responsibilities, disclosure and monitoring, as well as governance policies, procedures and practices.

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