Federal Budget: cuts a low blow to councils
The Federal Government’s budget cuts to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) is a massive blow to the local government sector and communities.
The negative impacts of the budget will begin immediately with the indexation of FAGs frozen for the next three years.
In Victoria it represents a $134 million funding cut over three years, which includes a loss of $13.3 million to councils in the coming financial year (2014/2015).
Roads to Recovery will be maintained until 2018-19 at $350 million per year, with additional funding of $350 million to be provided in 2015-16 through the Asset Recycling Program being developed between the Federal Government and the states and territories.
The Bridge Renewal Program will be funded at $60 million per year from 1 July 2014. Black Spots Program will continue at $60 million per year with an extra $100 million provided in each of 2015-16 and 2016-17 from the Asset Recycling Program.
The current HACC program will become part of the Commonwealth Home Support Program in July 2015. Six per cent growth, plus indexation, will apply to the Victorian HACC program in 2014/15. The proposed reduction of growth funds from 6 per cent per annum to match population growth of 3.5 per cent, plus annual indexation, is to begin mid 2018.
The budget did not announce any new funding for 15-hours of kindergarten. We anticipate more information after the completion of the National Partnership Agreement review in June.
However, the budget noted that provision has been made in the Contingency Reserve for additional funding in 2014/15 and 2015/16, subject to negotiations with the states. At this stage it is not clear what the level of future funding will be in this period.
Conduct and governance position paper
The MAV’s Position Paper on the Local Government Amendment (Governance and Conduct) Bill 2014, has been provided to the Minister for Local Government, outlining sector concerns.
Our consultation with members revealed matters included in the Bill that are welcome, and changes that impact the autonomy of councils, increase the administrative burden and add to the costs of a council, without any proper consultation regarding the ‘issue’ and alternative solutions.
The Bill is currently being considered by State Parliament and if passed, some amendments will be effective mid-2014.
For further information, contact Alison Lyon.
MAV meeting with Local Government Minister
The MAV held our regular meeting with the Minister for Local Government, Tim Bull, on 5 May.
As our meeting occurred just prior to the State Budget announcement, we discussed our submission to the budget.
We also discussed the Local Government Amendment Bill at length, and the performance reporting framework, Labor's plans to introduce rate capping and library funding.
We look forward to further meetings with the Minister leading up to the State election.
Long Day Care Professional Development Program
The Commonwealth Government has released guidelines for the Long Day Care Professional Development Programme. This will provide funds to services that are Child Care Benefit-approved Long Day Care (LDC) providers who employ educators that have a direct contact role with children.
This presents an opportunity for councils with LDC services to think strategically about the professional development requirements of their staff, IT requirements up to $3,000, purchasing resources, attendance at conferences and a range of other activities.
Councils may like to think about working together at a sub-regional level to create economies of scale and greater opportunities for use of the funding, particularly those councils in rural areas or who operate a Kindergarten Cluster Manager ( with LDC services in it).
Applications open on 19 May and close on 13 June. For more information, contact Wendy Allan.
Refugee Welcome Zones
In June, Victorian councils are encouraged to participate in Refugee Week to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees, and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to local communities.
This peak annual activity is always held the week of 20 June (World Refugee Day). This year, Refugee Week will be held from 15-20 June.
The theme is Restoring Hope. In the lead-up to Refugee Week, on 2 June the MAV will host a forum on the benefits of councils being Refugee Welcome Zones.
For further information, contact Con Pagonis.
Local government and international education forum
The Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovation, City of Melbourne and the MAV are convening a half day forum to discuss opportunities and challenges presented by the international education sector on 26 June, 9.30am-12.30pm.
International Education is Victoria's largest single export industry generating over $4.344 billion and underpinning more than 30,000 full time equivalent jobs. More than 120,000 international students impact the economic development, service delivery and social objectives of the state and local government.
The forum will include:
- An overview of State Government and City of Melbourne international education strategies
- An opportunity for LGAs to share details about their experiences and approaches
- Discussion of the economic and social opportunities for businesses and communities.
For further information, contact Chris Gartner on 9651 9942 or Julian Hill on 9651 9232. To register email Stephanie Shaw.
MAV workshop: self-managing communities
The MAV will hold a workshop called ‘supporting communities to do what agencies can’t’ on 2 June.
The workshop will explore ways that communities can respond to issues and introduce principles and tools that local government, non-profits and other agencies can use to support community action.
If you would like to discover more about self-managing communities this event is for you. The workshop will be conducted in an inclusive manner so that participants can focus on the issues of most interest to them.
Global community development legend Jim Diers (USA) will facilitate the workshop.
For further information, contact John Hennessy.
Local government needs to be heard
A program is now available for the 2014 National General Assembly of Local Government, on 15-18 June.
The assembly will provide councils with an opportunity to let the Federal Government know how important the current funding arrangements between the commonwealth and local government are, and that they need to be preserved and formalised.
With the handing down of the Commission of Audit report last week and its recommendations that the Commonwealth transfer to the states its funding responsibilities for local government, including the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) program and the Roads to Recovery (R2R) program, councils need to send a clear message to government.
Councils need financial certainty from the Commonwealth to ensure they can continue to play a vital role in their local communities in the provision of facilities and services.
Turning government upside down
This MAV workshop, presented by Paul Raynes, Programme Director, UK Local Government Association, on 23 May, will be an opportunity to share perspectives about the future of councils, their relationships with communities and public services, and to debate visions for the future.
It will give participants a chance to compare notes with other councils and also with international experience, especially in the light of the UK’s agenda for 'Rewiring Local Government'.
The workshop will cover:
- The overall picture of local public services and councils’ leadership opportunity
- Delivering services differently and the early intervention/prevention debate
- Money and budgetary opportunities
- Relations with other tiers of government and the dynamics of that.
For further information, contact John Hennessy.
2015 National Local Roads & Transport Congress: nominate as host
Each year, representatives of local government gather to discuss issues of relevance to their responsibilities for local transport.
In order to reflect the diverse nature of transport mixes and needs, the Congress travels to different locations each year. The 2015 Congress is to be held in Victoria.
The location is determined by the ALGA Board based on the annual rotation of the jurisdictions, after the submission of bids from interested local government authorities.
Those who wish to submit a bid to host the 2015 Roads Congress will need to prepare a full proposal for the ALGA Board.
The MAV has emailed further information about this opportunity to all CEOs and proposals are due by 6 June.
For further information, or to send a proposal, contact Josh Thompson on 02 6122 9400.
Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund
Applications for the Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund are now open.
The fund is a new $6 million investment by the Victorian Government over two years (2014-16) to maintain and enhance the physical expression of multicultural Victoria and support important community assets for the benefit of all Victorians.
Grants ranging from $20,000 to $750,000 (with a matched funding requirement) will be provided to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community organisations and local councils to:
- Restore or construct community facilities used by CALD communities
- Enhance streetscapes in cultural precincts across Victoria.
Expressions of interest can be submitted from 7 May until 15 June.
Tour of Kalparrin Gardens Stormwater Harvesting Project
Councils can tour Banyule’s stormwater harvesting project at Kalparrin Gardens on 19 May at 3pm.
The project is located at three sites – Kalparrin Gardens in Greensborough, Chelsworth Park in Ivanhoe and DeWinton Park in Rosanna.
Annually, the project will remove over 200 tonnes of pollution and provide up to 138 million litres of stormwater to replace tap water for irrigation of over 30 hectares of open space.
It will save on water bills, and by providing more environmentally and financially sustainable water for a range of parks and sports grounds, the project underpins community health and wellbeing.
For more information, or to RSVP, contact Clayton Simpson.
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