Library money in local spend
Councils have cautiously welcomed this week’s NSW Budget.
The 2019-20 NSW State Budget has delivered a welcome increase in drought funding, more money for public libraries and regional roads and bridges, the NSW local government lobby says.
But the praise was not unmitigated, with Local Government NSW (LGNSW) identifying a number of areas which remain either unfunded or underfunded, with concerning flow-on effects to councils and the communities they serve.
“The 2019-20 NSW Budget certainly contains some good news for local government, with a range of pre-election commitments to the sector being met,” LGNSW President Linda Scott said.
“Local governments are pleased the State Government has listened to our advocacy by committing to an additional $355 million in drought assistance.
“Drought assistance will make a real difference, and local governments have a key role to play in working as a trusted partner with the State to deliver this support.
“Local government also welcome the programmed $1 billion funding to fix local roads and timber bridges.
“It’s unfortunate that only $25 million per program has been allocated for the next financial year, because it’s unlikely a total of $50 million will make any real inroads into the maintenance backlog.
“However, we look forward to much greater investment in these programs in subsequent years.
“Councils particularly welcome the additional $12 million in funding for council-run public libraries; a 55 per cent increase in funding this year.
“These funding boosts are all good news for councils and the communities they serve, and I thank the Government for responding to advocacy by the local government sector.”
But LGNSW did find four key areas in which it believes the Budget falls short:
• Failure to effectively respond to the growing waste crisis by reinvesting the Waste Levy – which now stands at $772 million per year – in a coordinated state-wide approach to drive down waste generation and move the NSW economy to a circular economy
• No transitional funding to smooth the Government’s shock transfer to councils of an additional $19 million in annual contributions to the Emergency Services Levy (ESL)
• Insufficient funding to help councils comply with the Government’s new requirement that they prepare plans for Crown lands under their management
• No specific allocation to support the development of Joint Organisations of councils.