WA councils say they have fought off an attempt by the State Government to impose the costs of its financial recovery on local communities.

The WA Local Government Association says a plan to remove licencing concessions for Council vehicles has been reversed/ Councils were angry at what they saw as the State Government trying to meet its financial obligations by using local ratepayers’ money.

The move was expected to cost local governments $10.7 million a year.

After the Upper House yesterday voted to reverse the former Barnett Government’s move to remove the concessions, WALGA President Cr Lynne Craigie said the Local Government sector should take some credit.

“The financial mess was caused by the previous State Government, but to help fund the recovery they decided to cut support to local communities,” Cr Craigie said.

“It was nothing more than a blatant and unfair cost shift and diversion of responsibility that would have most likely resulted in ratepayers having to make up the shortfall.

“WALGA pushed for the reversal in the lead up to the State election with a public campaign with outstanding and strong advocacy from a core of country Councils in particular the Shire of Corrigin.”

During the debate in the Upper House this week, it was suggested that the $10.7 million funding that would now be lost to the State Government could be recovered by cuts to local road funding.

Meanwhile the State Treasurer has criticised the Opposition for going back on their own financial savings initiative by supporting the motion for the reversal.

Cr Craigie said the $10.7 million State shortfall created by the reversal was a consequence of the original unfair decision to shift costs to local communities and Local Government should not be financially punished.

“I suspect everyone appreciates the financial situation in which the State finds itself and the Government will make remedial decisions but simply shifting costs to local communities is both lazy and unfair,” she said.

“Local Government wants to participate in helping to improve the State’s financial health and would welcome an opportunity to discuss options with the State Government.”