Issue 979:                                                      Week ending 23 May 2014

MAV rates survey
Federal budget cuts: update
Fire services levy: rate reduction
15 hours kindergarten funding: councils continue advocacy
Plan Melbourne released
State Council meeting
New Food Sampling app ready for 30 day pilot
Urban Growth, Urban Youth
Planning: the next step
MAV workshop: Demystifying Local Government Finance
Tale of two liveable cities: Vancouver and Melbourne

Local resilience to climate change
In social media news...
Events

MAV rates survey

The MAV has issued our rates survey, now in its 12th year, to all Victorian councils for 2014-15. The purpose of this survey is to present rates data in a consistent format across all councils, and to ensure rates-related media stories are positioned within the context of the financial challenges facing the sector.

The MAV requests survey responses are returned in June. All data sought should be based on draft budget information, not final adopted budgets where possible.

This survey is a critical component of the MAV’s work to ensure that the media places councils’ rate increases in context, and any comparisons that are made around changes in rates being comparable across municipalities.

We are also including a second survey that collects data on waste management volumes, service levels and costs. This survey will help inform our policy and advocacy work we undertake in the waste management area.

For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Federal budget cuts: update

In addition to the $134 million freeze on indexation of the Financial Assistance Grants, further analysis of the Federal Budget is showing more cuts to local government through the Community Support Program (CSP).

From 1 July 2015 all contracts with Family Day Care schemes will cease and providers will need to reapply for CSP funds under a tightened criteria. This may adversely affect many councils and could also lead to fee increases for families.

There is also a cut of $300 million (over four years) provided by the Federal Government under a National Partnership Agreement to a range of concessions available to pensioners including rates, transport and electricity.

The National Partnership Agreement provided around $18.5m to the Victorian Government to ensure pensioner and health care card concessions were provided to the community.

The cost of the concession programs far exceeds the Commonwealth’s contribution, and it is the MAV’s understanding that the Victorian Government will continue to provide concessions in full. As such, we do not expect this cut to result in any change to the pensioner rate rebate program in Victoria.

Fire services levy: rate reduction

The State Government has announced levy rates for the Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL) this financial year. Following the 2014 revaluation, levy rates for all classes of properties will be reducing. Reductions are largest for primary producer properties and commercial properties.

The fixed charges will rise from $100 to $102 for residential properties and from $200 to $205 for all other property types.

However, the variable levy will be lower across all property categories than it was in 2013-14. From 1 July, the average household’s contribution to fire services funding in a CFA area is expected to remain at $142, with average MFB area household contributions remaining at an average of $143.

A $50 concession for eligible pensioners and veterans will continue to apply.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet is again working with councils to include a flyer in all council rate notices to inform ratepayers of the FSPL.

15 hours kindergarten funding: councils continue advocacy

Councils are urged to continue their advocacy efforts to ensure the Australian Government continues to fund 15 hours of kindergarten.

The 2014-15 Federal Budget papers did not commit funding for the additional five hours beyond December 2014, when the current National Partnership Agreement expires.

Future government funding beyond that time was listed in the budget papers as ‘not for publication'. However, the budget noted that provision has been made for additional funding in 2014‑15 and 2015‑16, subject to negotiations with the states.

The Assistant Minister for Education, Sussan Ley, has advised states and territories that a decision on future funding arrangements will not be made until completion of the Review on the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, in June.

For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves. For advocacy information and support contact Jan Barrett.

Plan Melbourne released

The State Government’s vision for Victoria has been detailed in the release of Plan Melbourne this week.

The MAV supports the principles behind Plan Melbourne, but we will be digesting the detail over the coming days to assess what it means for local government.

We’ve previously welcomed initiatives including a hard urban growth boundary, the independent Metropolitan Planning Authority, and an increased emphasis on transport. It is also pleasing to see an implementer and timing attached to the initiatives making the monitoring task easier.

We will be seeking urgent clarification from the government, and hope to finalise a partnership agreement with the MPA in coming weeks on how councils and the Authority will work together to implement Plan Melbourne.

State Council meeting

The MAV held our first State Council meeting for 2014 last week. At the meeting more than 50 resolutions were adopted, including unanimous sector opposition to rate capping and Federal Budget funding cuts.

The MAV/Institute of Chartered Accountants Annual Report Awards winners were also announced at the meeting with 24 councils taking home awards. Congratulations to the overall winners, Boroondara Council and Surf Coast Shire, and all category winners.

The MAV Strategic Work Plan 2014-15 was also endorsed and will guide our strategic directions and resourcing for the coming year.

Consultation sessions were held around the state to inform the plan’s development with a strong emphasis on the need to secure ongoing funding for transport and infrastructure.

The next State Council meeting is in October.

New Food Sampling app ready for 30 day pilot

A new Food Sampling Form app has been developed by MAV Technology and the Department of Health. The app is now ready to go to a 30 day, full production pilot.

The app streamlines the reporting process for council environmental health officers and has been extremely well received by all councils involved in the testing process.

The pilot will take place during June and the app will then be rolled out to all councils in July. The app will be provided at no cost to councils and will be supported and maintained for five years.

In order to ensure a smooth rollout, we need as many councils as possible to participate in the 30 day pilot.

For further information or to register interest in the pilot, contact Lisa Bennetto.

Urban Growth, Urban Youth

The Centre for Multicultural Youth will hold an Urban Youth, Urban Growth forum on 3 June at Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street.

The forum will provide an opportunity for growth corridor councils and service providers to focus on the growing population of culturally diverse communities, to ensure that planning and program design is reflective of diversity, focussing on youth.

RSVP by 30 May to Yasmin Hassen on 9340 3731.

Planning: the next step

The MAV, in partnership DTPLI will commence a new pilot program to evolve the successful MAV STEP Planning Process Improvement program, to position the sector for the next wave of improvements and efficiencies.

Come along and hear all about it at the launch of Planning – The next STEP on 29 May.

CEOs and planning directors from all councils are welcome to attend this event which will run prior to the MAV CEO Forum.

For further information, contact Kevin Peachey

MAV workshop: Demystifying Local Government Finance

Councillors will have the opportunity to learn more about complex financial documents and reports at the MAV’s Demystifying Local Government Finance and the New Reporting Framework workshop.

This training aims to demystify the financial environment that local government operates in. The program will focus on:

  • The requirements of the financial planning and accountability framework including recent changes to legislation
  • Key financial terms and definitions
  • Reading and interpreting key financial documents and reports
  • Identifying the key financial indicators and questions to ask of officers.

It will run on 13 June in Geelong, 3 July at the MAV office, and 10 July in Hopetoun. Registrations can be made online.

Tale of two liveable cities: Vancouver and Melbourne

The Metro Transport Forum and PT4ME2 will be holding a free event titled Tale of two liveable cities – Vancouver and Melbourne.

The event will facilitate a discussion on the topic of 'how do liveable cities stay liveable?'. Former Vancouver city councillor, Gordon Price, and Committee for Melbourne CEO, Kate Roffey, will be presenting.

For further information, contact Kevin Peachey.

Local resilience to climate change

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) at UTS has released a Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government: Embedding Resilience to Climate Change, to assist Australian councils with climate risk assessment and planning activities.

The manual highlights leading case studies and practical resources from Australian municipalities and overseas, and includes a step-by-step framework for effectively embedding climate risk into council operations.

The manual will be useful for council staff involved in climate risk assessment and planning such as asset managers, strategic planners, and corporate and community services staff.

In social media news...

Upcoming MAV events...

29 May

Planning – the next STEP

2 June

Supporting communities to do what agencies can’t

2 June

MAV Refugee Welcome Zone forum

 

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