The NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel has handed down its discussion paper into the proposed future directions of the state’s local government sector.

The Future Directions for NSW Local Government: Twenty Essential Steps outlines a suite of reforms aimed at improving culture, structures, finances and operations as well as improving relations with the State Government.

“This paper gives councils and the community another opportunity to have their say and inform our ideas before we complete our final report in September,” Chair of the Panel Professor Graham Sansom said.

Mr Samsom said that the goal of the panel’s discussion paper was to create sustainable system of democratic local government in the state.

“Many councils are performing very well. However, on the whole our investigations and consultations have revealed a local government sector that is weighed down with too many out-of-date ideas, attitudes and relationships. There are many factors involved, but at the heart of the problem we still have too many councils chasing too little revenue”, said Professor Sansom.

The release of the discussion paper comes a week after the State Government completed a review of the financial state of NSW’s councils, concluding that 25 per cent were in a dire financial state, with that number projected to hit 48 per cent within three years.

“There is no point in seeking to apportion blame: what is needed now is a healthy dose of reality-testing and an acceptance that there are no easy answers,” said Professor Sansom. “It is clear that the financial base of NSW local government is in urgent need of repair, with many councils facing very serious problems that threaten their sustainability and ability to provide adequate services and infrastructure for their local communities,” he continued.

The full paper can be found here