Inquiry probes local government funding and services

Picture: AAP Image/Luis Enrique Ascui

Local government funding and service delivery is set to be scrutinised by the Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Local Government funding and services has commenced, with local governments and members of the community urged to participate.

The inquiry will include evaluating cost-shifting from State and Federal governments onto local councils, assessing local governments’ ability to fulfill core service delivery objectives, reviewing the revenue structure of local governments to determine its sustainability and appropriateness, and exploring alternative funding models.

Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Walsh highlighted potential issues of cost-shifting, ranging from waste collection to the maintenance of road networks.

“The commencement of this inquiry marks an essential step in ensuring transparency and accountability in local government funding and services,” he said.

“It is imperative that residents and local councils actively participate, as their input is invaluable in addressing potential cost-shifting issues.

“Together, we can work towards more effective and sustainable solutions for our communities.”

The inquiry has been initiated by the Liberals and Nationals and was prompted by concerns from numerous councillors and community members.

“We are dedicated to ensuring that ratepayers and communities receive value for money and equitable access to local services and amenities.

“It’s a significant step towards ensuring fair and efficient resource allocation, and I encourage all stakeholders to actively participate and contribute to this important process.“

A Greater Dandenong Council spokesperson said the council would have input into Municipal Association of Victoria’s submission to the enquiry.

“Council is still considering whether to also make our own supplementary submission.”

The council is set to borrow a projected $75 million to build three major facilities in the next four years, according to its draft 2024-’25 budget.

It represents nearly half of $153 million spent in that period on the aquatic facility Dandenong Wellbeing Centre (DWC), Keysborough South Community Hub (KSCH) and Dandenong Community Hub (DCH).

The council’s borrowings – to peak at $105 million in three years – and the $60 million cost to service the debts over 10 years have been nominated by the council as among its ongoing financial challenges.

Its indebtedness to rates ratio would remain within “prudential limits”, the council stated in a long-term financial report.

Submissions are due by 28 June.