NSW Local Government is faced with a variety of financial restrictions such as ongoing reform, rate pegging, cost shifting from the State Government and reduced grant funding.
Council provides a diverse range of services and, in the face of reductions in funding, looking after the local infrastructure becomes the one challenge that stands above all. Apart from the renewal and maintenance of existing infrastructure, there are increasing demands for new roads, footpaths, cycleways and more. The challenge is this infrastructure needs more than maintenance as it ages. It needs to be regularly upgraded or renewed altogether.
In brief, our challenge is this:
Many years of rate pegging. The state government has set a limit on income from rates since 1977.
Local Government NSW estimated that NSW councils were left $521m out of pocket in the 2011/12 financial year because of continuous cost-shifting by state and federal governments.
Financial Assistance Grants have been frozen by the federal government – having a 10 year cumulative impact of $2.8m on Council's long term financial plan.
Enormous increases in insurance fees is just one example of how costs have risen since the 1970s.
Council services have increased dramatically in the past 40 years, and Marrickville's population is now increasing, and is forecast to keep growing.
* Cost-shifting is the practice of transferring responsibilities to local government without adequate – or any – funding. Over the years these have ranged from contaminated land and flood controls, noxious weeds, enforcing the Companion Animals Act, street lighting, funding public libraries, and more.
The implications are that:
The way we prioritise the work we can do with the funds available is based on the condition and location of a particular piece of infrastructure. The condition is rated on a scale from 1 (Excellent/Very good) to 5 (Very Poor). The location is based on a hierarchy of amount of or type of usage. For example, roads can be regional, connector, local or laneways. Footpaths might service community areas or transport nodes or they may be in locations such as busy residential areas or commercial areas. Therefore, volumes of usage varies considerably based on location.
Each year, a team of council decision makers review the major work program and prioritise planned activity based on what we know the community needs.
* Our Asset Management Plans are updated annually in March, for adoption in June.