Regular review into impact of rate capping welcome
We recently welcomed the Legislative Council’s Inquiry into Rate Capping Policy.
The inquiry will include a six monthly review into the ongoing impact any rate capping measure will have on council operations, services and infrastructure, as well as the local communities they serve.
This week the Legislative Council released the Terms of Reference for the inquiry. They have agreed the Environment and Planning Committee should undertake the regular reviews as part of its oversight of local government.
Fire Services Property Levy rates
The Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas, has announced the Fire Services Property Levy rates for 2015-16. The revenue collected by the levy is forecast to increase by 7.2 per cent in 2015-16, with substantial changes to the variable levy component of the charge.
Residential properties in both CFA and MFESB areas will see a 32 per cent increase in the variable component of the charge. The fixed charge component has increased from $102 to $104 for residential properties, and $205 to $210 for all other properties.
The complete levy rates for 2015-16 are available online.
Final call for Financial Assistance Grants surveys
This is the final week for councils to complete our questionnaire about Financial Assistance Grants, as part of our advocacy campaign with the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). The aim of the campaign is to achieve the restoration of the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants.
All Victorian council CEOs have been contacted by the MAV requesting they fill out the questionnaire by 12 June. The information will be used to build the profile of Financial Assistance Grants with Commonwealth parliamentarians, and provide concrete examples of how the freeze is constraining the ability of the sector to deliver infrastructure and services to the community.
We have also asked councils to inform us if they have passed a motion to support our campaign.
For further information, or to submit our questionnaire, email Kathryn Duffy or call 9667 5521.
MAV Workcare Self Insurance Scheme
Twenty-five Victorian councils have committed to improving their workplace health and safety performance, leading to better outcomes for staff and significant cost savings for councils, through the MAV Workcare Self Insurance Scheme.
Victorian councils have joined other councils from around Australia who have already experienced the improved performance and cost savings that come from the program.
The service provider to the Victorian Scheme provides similar services to the Local Government Self Insurance Schemes in the other states, and brings significant experience in establishing the schemes to ensure they provide benefits to employees and cost savings to councils.
Happier employees through better return to work outcomes leads to 30 per cent year-on-year cost savings that have been enjoyed in the other states, and the aim is to provide a similar experience in Victoria. We congratulate those councils for their willingness and commitment to improve performance within their councils and local government generally.
For further information, contact Allan Holmes.
Overhaul to development contributions
We have emailed all council planning directors seeking their feedback and insight into the recently announced overhaul to developer contributions.
Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, has introduced a Bill to Parliament this week to replace the developer contributions system which has been in place since 2005.
The new system aims to deliver a simpler development contributions system to provide for infrastructure, particularly in rapid growth areas.
For further information, or to submit feedback, contact Gareth Hately.
MAV LEAP Procurement Continuous Improvement Program
With uncertain economic times in local government, it is essential that councils are continuously looking for ways to increase efficiencies when delivering services to the community. The LEAP Procurement Continuous Improvement Program is aimed at building capability to achieve these efficiencies, through benchmarking, spend analysis, improving regional and sector collaboration, local economic development, compliance and performance monitoring.
Thirteen councils are currently participating in the LEAP Program. Benefits for councils and regions participating in the program include:
- Visibility of category and contract savings opportunities
- Inform regional collaborative procurement projects
- Driving shared services delivery of procurement and other core services
- Delivery of targeted support to each council and regions to continuously improve
- Ability to monitor compliance with policy and probity performance.
If you would like additional details regarding the LEAP program, or to arrange a demonstration at your council, please contact Rachel Ferretto.
Education State consultation
This week the State Government briefed key stakeholders on the vision for the Education State - inviting all Victorians to be part of a statewide consultation throughout 2015.
Within a universal system, equity of access and developing new strategies to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and young people at risk of disengagement, and rebuilding the training system are a particular focus. Discussion papers will be released by the State in June, and a series of consultation forums will be held during June and July.
In the early years and youth areas, it has been indicated that following the consultations, announcements would follow about allocation of resources to more early intervention programs in line with the strategies and actions to be progressed.
The MAV will prepare a response to the discussion papers (as relevant) in consultation with councils, and we will advise details for council input to the MAV in coming weeks.
Paperless Council Meetings reports
MAV Technology has released a Paperless Council Meetings report which reviews the introduction and use of technology to improve the governance of meeting processes, in particular those that relate to ‘paperless’ council meetings in Victoria. It details a number of council journeys to a paperless future, including descriptors of the technologies and platforms they are using.
The report suggests that the shift from ‘paper based’ to ‘paperless’ approaches improves governance, lowers transaction costs and provides opportunities for decision making and collaborative activity that are not possible in traditional models. It also argues that the paperless council meeting process is just one example of how rapidly emerging, but proven technologies, can deliver better council services while radically reducing costs. In the case of paperless council meetings this cost reduction is in excess of 80 per cent.
A companion report, The Dashboard Revolution is a short scan that explains why increasing technology mobility and the widespread use of ‘Apps’ will not only radically reduce the cost of supporting processes like council meetings, but why it will also change the nature of how the IT function operates in councils.
Councils celebrate Refugee Week: 14-20 June
Victorian councils are celebrating Refugee Week with their communities, with many holding festive events and forums. Marking World Refugee Day on 20 June, Refugee Week is coordinated by the Refugee Council of Australia.
In the lead up to Refugee Week, the MAV facilitated a session on advocacy through local government at the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria’s ‘Leading the Way’ forum for new and emerging communities, which included many who arrived in Australia as refugees or asylum seekers.
To help councils embrace Refugee Week, posters are available, along with regional ambassadors to help celebrate and educate. Councils are encouraged to register events and make use of the resource kit.
Thirty-seven Victorian councils are now declared Refugee Welcome Zones, with seven joining in the last year – a sign of increasing council support for these new Australians.
Understanding local government: registrations closing
Registrations for our Understanding Local Government workshop close next week.
The workshop is suitable for both new and seasoned council staff focusing on increasing their understanding of local government, its role, responsibilities, and history. In the workshop we examine local government’s place within our federal systems and its legislative relationship with the State Government.
It will be held on 22 June at the MAV office, 60 Collins Street, Level 11.
Victorian Biodiversity Strategy and Act review
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is establishing a stakeholder reference group to inform its review of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, and the development of a statewide biodiversity strategy.
The MAV is seeking expressions of interest to be a member of the reference group from council officers with a strong working understanding and broad strategic interest in biodiversity management and/or applications of the FFG Act. Officers interested and able to commit to three day-long workshop sessions – to be held on 26 June, 31 July and in late August – should email a brief curriculum vitae to Claire Dunn, by COB 16 June.
Following the stakeholder reference group process, DELWP will complete preparation of a draft biodiversity strategy which is expected to be released in final form around mid-2016.
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