Fight for funding

The Government provided $60 million in funding in the State Budget, but $45 million of this was in the form of low-interest loans that councils would have to pay back.

The remaining $15 million would be in grants, but all councils would have to fight for a share of the $5 million available per year.

Mr Simpson acknowledged the councils were ‘not happy’.

He said he was prepared to ask for more money, but needed to know how many councils he would have, what size they would be and what the specific costs would be, which he would only know after the Local Government Advisory Board recommendation in July.

‘I can’t just go in and give them an open cheque book,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how many (councils) I’m going to get, it could be 15 or 16.’

Mr Simpson said backlash from councils was just another obstacle to the reform process but the cost of doing nothing would be far greater. He said reform would also result in savings and better services.

The WA Local Government Association (WALGA) estimated that the total cost of the amalgamations would be between $65m and $100m.