Transition to the new Fire Services Property Levy underway
The Victorian Government will commence a statewide information campaign in June to inform property owners about the new fire services property levy. In recent weeks all councils have received details from the MAV about this initiative, and been provided an opportunity to work with the State on tailoring local aspects of the campaign to your municipality. The State Revenue Office (SRO) will also commence its customer service training with councils this weekend. Sessions have been organised for each council between April and June. The variable rates are expected to be announced by the State in May.
Following ongoing negotiations by the MAV, last week the Treasurer’s office wrote to all Mayors advising of funding allocations to collect the new fire services property levy from 1 July. A total of $3.1 million will be provided to councils for 2012-13, and a further $6.9 million in 2013-14. This funding will cover estimated customer service costs, transaction fees and postage costs. It excludes the central IT project being managed separately by the MAV; valuation costs managed by the Valuer General’s office; the statewide information campaign and the SRO customer service training.
We will be reconvening the Fire Services Levy Working Group to develop a common template for councils to record implementation costs that can inform a review by the MAV and the SRO after the first year of operation. This will then guide future negotiations for funding over the remaining four-year package announced by the Government.
Coastal Adaptation Pathways Project findings released
This week the Coastal Adaptation Pathways Project findings were released. It modelled how to assess the cost of flood damage against economic benefits of occupying hazard areas. It found early policy changes and staged investment is cost-effective and provides the best economic return.
The project offers a framework for councils and other decision-makers to conduct cost-benefit analyses that can test options and inform actions to better respond to flooding impacts caused by climate change. This approach could similarly be used in inland areas.
Case studies from Mordialloc Creek (Kingston), Southbank and Arden Macaulay precincts (Melbourne), Elwood Canal (Port Phillip), and the Murray Anderson Catchment (Mornington Peninsula) were used to test the economic analyses. The research confirms it is economically viable to continue to occupy the areas. Importantly, the need for ‘retreat’ was dismissed as a viable option.
The Port Phillip Coastal Adaptation Pathways Project was conducted by consultant economists and engineers AECOM, and funded by the federal Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science Research, and Tertiary Education, and the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD). The MAV was joined by the Association of Bayside Municipalities (ABM) and the Central Coastal Board as project partners, together with input from Melbourne Water, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, DPCD and the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research.
Draft MAV Strategic Plan
The draft MAV Strategic Plan 2013-14 has been sent to councils for comment. The plan sets out the state of play for Victorian local government in the short, medium and long term. The broad work plan addresses core issues impacting councils in Victoria. Actions are based on their capacity to assist members to effectively and efficiently carry out their operations in the context of persistent economic uncertainty, fiscal constraint and regulatory change.
Eight consultation sessions were conducted in seven locations across Victoria to inform the development of this plan. Comments on the draft should be directed to Eliza Nolan by 5 pm on 22 April.
MAV Liability Mutual Insurance briefing
The MAV has just returned from its London reinsurance market visits ahead of the 2013-14 Liability Mutual Insurance (LMI) renewals. Following substantial deterioration in claims performance since 2007, there is upward pressure on members’ contributions. The LMI scheme is a mutual insurance scheme that commenced in 1993 following the failure of the private liability insurance market to cater for local government. It operates entirely for the benefit of its members, and services Victorian and Tasmanian councils and water corporations.
The MAV is holding a briefing on the outlook of the scheme for the 2013-14 year, including possible contribution levels. The meeting will take place on 6 May from 11 am to 2 pm. With major challenges facing the scheme, all interested CEOs, directors and risk staff are encouraged to attend to discuss the future of the scheme.
To register for the briefing session contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.
Release of Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Policy
The Victorian Government has released its Getting full value: the Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Policy. The policy sets a 30-year vision for waste and resource recovery in Victoria, with policy priorities guiding actions over the next ten years. In general, the policy in its direction and intent is largely the same as the draft policy. However it was pleasing to see, in line with MAV’s submission, a greater focus on reducing waste and resource efficiency, with the addition of a new chapter.
The MAV welcomes the certainty provided through a ‘fixing’ of the landfill levy for the next ten years, subject to annual ‘Treasurer’s rate’ adjustment and the commitment to transparently report initiatives funded through the levy. The policy also states an intention to better integrate waste and resource recovery with land use planning, transport and development that should result, at least on paper, in better, longer-term decisions for Victoria.
For further information contact Ben Morris.
MAV forum on libraries
The MAV is convening a forum for councils to develop a sector-wide response to the State’s Ministerial Advisory Council review of public libraries. This will inform the MAV’s submission to the Stage Two process due in mid-May.
Councillors and senior executives are invited to attend the forum on the MAV’s response to Review of Victorian Public Libraries from 10 am – 12 pm on 8 May at the MAV offices.
The forum will provide an opportunity for senior council representatives to have input to the MAV submission on key areas including: structure and governance aspects of the proposed ‘Victorian Library’ model, the funding negotiations with the State and priorities for staged implementation on agreed directions with councils.
To RSVP contact Hannah Fitzgerald by Monday 6 May. For further information contact Clare Hargreaves.
Meeting with Minister Guy
The MAV held its quarterly meeting with the Hon. Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning last week. In this constructive meeting, the MAV expressed councils' concerns particular to the transfer of enforcement responsibility for wind farm proposals determined by the Minister, greater than 30 megawatts. It was agreed that an audit would be undertaken to understand the magnitude of impact.
The MAV also shared councils’ concerns and highlighted the need to minimise unintended policy implications of any new or amended commercial, rural and industrial zones. Planning fees were discussed in depth. It was mentioned that a regulatory impact statement would be release this year, with the aim of finalising new fees in 2014.
The concept of a Metropolitan Planning Authority was discussed at length. We discussed the Metropolitan Strategy Reference Group established to engage with the sector and help inform our submissions. The Minister was particularly interested in scoping the Metropolitan Planning Authority and hearing council views. The MAV intends on reconvening the group to understand council views on the Metropolitan Planning Authority.
For further information contact Gareth Hately.
Advocacy for continued kindergarten funding
The MAV last week wrote to Prime Minister Julia Gillard about funding for universal access to kindergarten. The 15 hour preschool reform process in Victoria has been highly successful due to a strong local/state/national government planning and investment partnership. Victorian councils have contributed over $210 million to support the infrastructure needs for this reform. The need for continued Australian Government investment at least at the current level to support universal access is critical. The MAV has asked that early childhood education be given continued support in addition to the consideration of the Gonski Review for Funding for Schooling.
For further information contact Clare Hargreaves.
Government response to Potentially Contaminated Land Report
The Victorian Government has released its response to the Ministerial Advisory Report from the Potentially Contaminated Land Advisory Committee. Both reports are available to download from the DPCD website. We made a submission to the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Potentially Contaminated Land in November 2011. While we are still assessing the detail, the MAV looks forward to working with the sector, DPCD and EPA to assist in the implementation of the recommendations over the short, medium and longer term.
For further information contact Gareth Hately.
Local Government Aboriginal Partnership Project
Local Government Victoria and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs have written to council CEOs to provide an update about the Local Government Aboriginal Partnership Project (LGAPP).
Announced by the Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs in 2011, this project aims to strengthen partnerships between councils and Aboriginal people and organisations across the state. A steering committee and working group have included MAV, VLGA, LGPro, Reconciliation Victoria, the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council and representatives from local, state and commonwealth governments.
The update provides a summary of the work to date, including the 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey and the new “Maggolee…here in this place” website being developed by Reconciliation Victoria with funding provided by the Victorian Government. The update paper also includes proposed principles that have been developed by the LGAPP to provide a starting point for councils seeking to strengthen their engagement and partnership with local Aboriginal communities. The draft principles received broad support from the Victorian Aboriginal community during consultation undertaken late last year.
The MAV has agreed to collate local government feedback about the principles. If you have comments, please forward them to Rosemary Hancock by Friday 17 May.
Local crime prevention grants now open
Applications are now open for the latest round of Community Safety Fund grants.
Councils and community groups are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $10 000 for local crime prevention initiatives.
The grants are part of the Victorian Government’s Community Crime Prevention Program which helps promote community safety and prevent crime in communities across Victoria. Applications close on 29 May.
Cycling issues forum
The Institute of Transportation Engineers is hosting a cycling issues forum on Wednesday 24 April at the Richmond Town Hall from 3.30 pm to 6 pm.
The forum will include several short presentations on topics such as Victoria’s Cycling Strategy, cycling infrastructure in growth areas and cyclist safety. Register online.
The MAV is currently working with the State Government to implement the Victorian Cycling Strategy Action Plan. Please contact James Cleaver if you would like to be involved.
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