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Councils fear financial ‘time-bomb’

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SA councils could be left with a financial “time-bomb” as the major political parties serve up election sweeteners but fail to commit to improved long-term base funding for maintenance and other programs, warns the LGA.

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“It’s great to see some funding announced for new community facilities, but facilities need maintaining, which leaves ratepayers with a long-term commitment to maintenance and replacement costs,” Local Government Association president Dave Burgess said.

Burgess said “base funding and interstate fairness issues” were being ignored in the federal election campaign, with South Australian councils receiving the lowest federal funding per capita in Australia, including less local road funding than other states and territories.

He said the state’s councils also received an “unfair share” of untied grants – money that they can spend according to local priorities.

“To date, neither major party has addressed an almost billion-dollar national hole in Commonwealth funding created by a 2014 freeze on untied funding growth, nor an unfairness in local road funding which sees every other state and territory funded to a higher level than South Australia.”

The LGA has asked parties contesting the federal election in SA to answer 10 questions related to local government issues. These include whether they would commit to maintaining the doubling of Roads to Recovery funding, establishing a community infrastructure fund of $300 million per year for the next four years, and setting up a $100 million program to support local government “climate mitigation/adaptation”.

Burgess said the Liberal party and NXT had not yet responded, and no party had committed to creating a community infrastructure fund.

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