Councils fight funding

govt package far too small
govt package far too small

Metropolitan mayors and presidents attended a meeting with Local Government Minister Tony Simpson last Monday and rejected the State Budget funding package of $5 million a year for three years and access to $45m in low interest loans.

They also voted to take to their councils the option of withdrawing participation in the process should the State Government not revise its funding position.

South Perth and Victoria Park councillors will be asked by their mayors if they want to withdraw, but Belmont mayor Phil Marks would not confirm either way.

Cr Marks said Belmont ratepayers would bear the burden of the cost for what might be reduced services.

‘It is difficult to see the value or service improvement our ratepayers will receive for the additional rates they will have to pay to cover costs that have been forced upon them.’

Victoria Park Mayor Trevor Vaughan said at the mayors’ meeting the decision was agreed upon that councils did not want to walk away from reform, but must receive the financial support to be able to implement it.

‘The mayors and presidents’ feelings were that they do not want to continue with the amalgamation process until there is sufficient funding,’ he said. ‘Whether this occurs or not and how they progress depends upon the decision of each individual council.’

South Perth Deputy Mayor Glenn Cridland said the city had until this point voluntarily participated in the local government change process in good faith, upon the understanding that the process would be fully funded by State Government.

‘The council will consider its options on whether to proceed with the process of local government reform in the light of the grossly inadequate funding announcement.’

On Thursday Mr Simpson told the Gazette he would ‘go in and bat’ for more money from the State Government to cover the cost of council mergers after the Local Government Advisory Board made its recommendation in July.