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Council calls for financial independence
Date of Issue: 
October 11, 2022

Victorian councils, together with the MAV, are repeating the call for the next State Government to better recognise the significant economic challenges faced by the sector.

Key issues for all councils are the sizeable loss of revenue from the mandated closure of facilities during the pandemic, together with the current rate cap and escalating operational and asset maintenance costs.

As part of the Municipal Association of Victoria’s (MAV) State Election Campaign, Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said, following East Gippsland Shire Council’s support for the community through the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now just as passionate about leading the recovery from the serious economic and social impacts that are now coming into sharp focus.

“The opportunities for the state to better work alongside Council to achieve the best outcomes for the community should be a key concern for our state representatives,” Cr Reeves said.

“We’d like to see reduced duplication through better use of existing local government conduits to generate increased economic development and innovations that benefit local businesses.

“Service efficiencies and less duplication from multiple agencies will assist local businesses navigate government programs and better tap into available supports and networks.”

Cr Reeves also highlighted the need for a partnership, not cost shifting and unfunded mandates.

“We want to improve the quality of local services and infrastructure across East Gippsland. The best way for the state to support us in that is by minimising cost shifting and reviewing the rate-capping system.

This campaign aligns with the MAV Strategy 2021-25, which was adopted by the MAV’s State Council in May 2021 and outlines opportunities to ensure it can deliver in the best interests of local communities.

“East Gippsland Shire has had a lot of support from the State Government in response to the drought and Black Summer bushfires.

"Its support of some of our major infrastructure projects, such as the Omeo Mountain Bike Trails; Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre upgrade; and the under-construction WORLD sporting precinct, will create facilities that our community will enjoy for years to come,” Cr Reeves said.

“However, we have a small ratepayer base and a large geographic area to service – almost 10 per cent of the state.

"Cost shifting from the state to local government puts a real strain on our budgets and ability to meet the needs and aspirations of our communities.”

The key asks from the local government sector are fully documented in the MAV’s State Election Platform.

  • Create a local government-specific workforce-development program that generates local employment opportunities and addresses key local government workforce skill deficits.
  • Reduce duplication by using existing local government conduits to generate increased economic development and innovations that benefit local businesses.
  • Bring forward the rollout of funding for councils to provide Local Community Collectives (now known as Social Action Inclusion Groups) which were recommended by the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health, to support for people with mental health needs connect with people and organisations close to where they live and work.
  • Support reconciliation and strong constructive relationships between councils and local Aboriginal communities, including a capacity-building program for councillors to partner with Victorian Traditional Owners.
  • Invest in new local, place-based creative industries strategies that support collaboration and identify local priorities for investment; and expand Creative Victoria’s Regional Partnerships program to enable new entrants from regional and outer-suburban areas.
  • Restore funding to the Building Inclusive Communities program to local government to support the State Government’s delivery of the Victorian Disability Plan through place-based approaches and involvement of local people, groups, businesses and services.
  • Avoid shifting of new or additional costs and responsibilities to local government without ensuring adequate and ongoing resources to meet them.
  • Reform the rate capping system to support rather than hinder the ongoing financial sustainability of councils.
  • Renegotiate agreements for co-funded services that, over time, have shifted an increasing burden to councils.

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