Buck passing from government to councils

COFFS Harbour City councillor Ian Ovens is fuming over the local impact of cost-shifting.

A NSW Local Government and Shires Association report shows the total amount of cost-shifting for the council was $5.3 million in the financial years between 2005 and 2007.

Councils everywhere bitterly complain about governments 'flick-passing' responsibilities to them without providing the required funding back-up.

“In the last two years, $5.3 million was taken out of this city due to cost-shifting,” Cr Ovens told Thursday's council meeting.

“It's obscene and just gets worse and worse. We have to get our masters in Sydney to recognise we are going broke up here.”

At the end of last year, the LGSA surveyed NSW councils on cost-shifting across 22 council functions, ranging from contributions to the NSW Fire Brigades and Rural Fire Service, to public library operations and administering food safety regulations.

Cr Bill Palmer said one function, for example, the administration of the NSW Contaminated Land Management Act, had “been in our hands for some time”.

“Why shouldn't it be the responsibility of the EPA (Environment Protection Authority),” Cr Palmer said.

Another worry for Cr Palmer was the RTA transferring responsibility for roads under 'reclassification reviews'.

“That could bite us in a big way,” he said.

“If we take over roads the RTA have no longer had an interest in, we need their money to progress these things.

“This could grow like a cancer."

Conference bid

  • IF Coffs Harbour City Council has its way, it will host the 2010 NSW Local Government Association conference.
  • It has already hosted the conference twice - in 1998 and last year.
  • The council will bid for the hosting rights, which will be determined at this year's annual conference at Broken Hill in October.
  • A Coffs Harbour Council delegation will be at this conference.

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