Councils call for grant clarity
Local government advocates want council grant funding cleaned up in NSW.
A NSW Parliamentary inquiry this week found that the State Government operated a “brazen pork barrel scheme” and played party politics with $252 million of taxpayers’ money.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) president Linda Scott has backed the Public Accountability Committee in its call for a “fundamental overhaul”.
Cr Scott welcomed the recommendation that the current model of grant funding be replaced with a clear and transparent funding formula, which was predictable and provided multi-year funding agreements.
“This would give councils certainty and allow them to plan ahead to ensure the effective and efficient use of taxpayer funds,” she said.
“The Government needs to work with LGNSW to change the way State funding is determined to ensure public funds deliver public good, in a way that is transparent, fair and equitable for all councils in NSW.
“It is totally unacceptable that councils and their communities miss out on funding for political reasons.”
Cr Scott said the Public Accountability Committee had recommended the new council funding model require a link to each council’s existing strategic planning documents and priorities, to remove any potential political bias and ensure genuine community value.
“The committee also recommends consideration be given to the additional costs borne by regional and remote councils; an issue which places additional pressure on councils with lower ratings bases than metropolitan councils,” she said.
“This recommendation has our full support, as does the committee’s call to ensure funding criteria is regularly and publicly reviewed to ensure it is actually meeting the needs of the sector and not turning into a vote-buying exercise that advantages some and disadvantages others.
“Councils absolutely rely on State and Federal support for the vast and ever-growing range of infrastructure and services they provide their communities. They rely on grants like the Stronger Communities Fund to help underwrite vital local projects.
“I welcome this report’s recommendation for Government to work with LGNSW to come up with a better way for determining grants and look forward to a closer working relationship in the future to achieve equitable outcomes for all our communities,” Cr Scott said.