Councillor Joanne McRae labeled the shift of development costs onto Orange City Council by the NSW and federal governments “not fair”, claiming it has a profound impact on the provision of projects and services for ratepayers.
Council is appealing to the NSW government for a re-look into the issue in the wake of a recent report which said ratepayers were forced to pick up the tab for local infrastructure and services to the tune of $820 million in the 2015-16 financial year.
Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said cost shifting – when the responsibility for providing a certain service, concession, asset or regulatory function is shifted from one sphere of government to another – was a significant problem, one which was “eating into council revenue by up to 17 per cent each year”.
We are expected to deliver more services but without being able to actually get the funding to do so.Orange City Councillor Joanne McRae
Data showed Orange City Council shared $3.3 million in costs in the stated 12-month period, and had suffered accordingly.
“It is not fair at all,” Cr McRae said.
“We are expected to deliver more services but without being able to actually get the funding to do so.”
The former deputy mayor cited a couple of specific service areas – animal care and waste management – that had been impacted by the shift.
“Council is now required to deliver the services required as per the Companion Animals Act,” she explained.
“It includes employment of rangers and management of stray animals. We are asked to meet these requirements that are state-mandated.
“We call for 100 per cent of the waste levies collected by the NSW government to be returned to local governments so that we can provide the waste services to our communities.
Cr McRae said the unwanted byproduct was that local projects suffered because of cost shifting.
“The challenge is to balance the budget, which means taking money from the other projects,” she said.
“It also means there is less base for innovative, community-focused projects because we are spending otherwise.”
When asked why the cost was being transferred onto local councils Cr McRae said the problem is that the state government, and to some extent the federal government, are too distant and want to focus on big projects.
“They are less interested in day-to-day activities that make a difference to local communities,” she said.
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