NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Local Government Paul Toole today announced record funding of up to $1 billion to ensure NSW has strong, modern councils to deliver the housing, jobs and local infrastructure people need.
NSW premier Mike Baird says, “We are committed to Rebuilding NSW and to achieve this we need a strong local government sector, however this is not possible when more than one-third of the State’s councils are facing financial problems - losing more than $1 million a day".
The report, ‘Fit for the Future’ by the Independent Local Government Review Panel proposed amalgamating councils in metropolitan Sydney to form between 12 and 18 new councils to replace the 41 smaller existing councils.
Chris Johnson, CEO of the Urban Taskforce
says, “the Government has put together an impressive package of financial incentives to encourage council amalgamations in Sydney and Joint Organisations of Councils in rural areas.”
The financial incentives includes, $258 million to assist councils who decide to merge and make the changes needed to provide better services to communities; Cheaper finance for councils to build and maintain necessary community facilities, saving them up to $600 million; Up to $100 million savings through reduced red tape and duplication.
As well as the financial benefits, improvements to the local government system, including the laws that govern it, the way the State works with councils and the support that councils receive shows the NSW government is ‘pro growth’.
“The proposal for regional councils to create new regional Joint Organisations where savings can be made through shared services is a good move and could also apply in Sydney if not enough councils want to amalgamate,” says Johnson.
Councils will have until 30 June 2015 to submit their proposal on how they plan to be ‘Fit for the Future’.
It will be assessed by independent experts against independently-set criteria.