Councillor Don Palmer Providing Local Leadership & Working for You

There has been much talk in the last week or two about Councils having rates increases capped and indeed the relevance of Local Government.

Councils exist only at the behest of the State Government. The Local Government Act 1999 prescribes a system of local government to enable councils to govern and manage areas at a local level.
The operative here is to recognise that this is to allow government at the local level. I suggest responsibilities that are best dealt with at the local level. Responsibilities that would lose the local if administered by the State Government.
It is interesting to hear a potential State Government talking of capping rates, when State Governments dictate what services are to be provided. In so doing they historically (the State Government) have no problem asking Councils to provide services without getting commensurate funding or funding not sufficient to cover the service rendered. You would have heard this called cost shifting in the media.
So what do Councils provide?

All councils have basic responsibilities under the Local Government Act and other relevant legislation. These include but are not limited to:
It all Starts with the 3 “R’s”. Roads, Rates & Rubbish including
ü     Management of basic infrastructure including roads, footpaths, parks, public open      space
ü     Street lighting and stormwater drainage.
ü     Street cleaning and rubbish collection.
In response to community needs, Council provides the following services and programs:
ü     Various health services.
ü     Aged and Social Care
ü     Economic Development
ü     Animal Management  
ü     Urban Policy and Planning
ü     Library Services
ü     Community Development
ü     Sustainable Landscapes
ü     Community Engagement  
ü     Parking Control
ü     Community Services
ü     Community Centres
ü     Community Transport
ü     Volunteers
ü     Corporate Services
ü     Sport and Recreation
ü     Recreation and Open Space Management
ü     Youth Development
ü     Environmental Management
ü     Museum
ü     Graffiti Removal
ü     Pedestrian movement
The Council also maintains a number of facilities on a fee for service basis, some of these are subsidised. For example:
ü     Unley Swimming Centre
ü     Community Bus Service
ü     HACC Program
ü     Halls for hire
ü     Ovals, courts, parks and reserves for hire.
And Councils have a responsibility under the Development Act 1995 including
ü     Assisting the Minister of Planning in establishing Guidelines for Planning Controls over built development in the Council area.
ü     Development Assessment and Approval of developments with the council area.
ü     Building Rules Assessment and Approval of applications for building work.
ü     Checking of Building Work under construction, including auditing building safety assessment
And then there are the governance issues underpinning all these responsibilities that have to be established and reviewed on regular legislated intervals.
ü     Regulatory activities, including voters’ roll maintenance and Elected Members’ support.
ü     Determining longer term strategic management and management plans, financial plans,
ü     Infrastructure and asset management plans and policies and procedures for the area.
ü     Setting rates, preparing an Annual Business Plan and Budget.
ü     Developing Policies and procedures.
ü     Provision of various environmental health services.

May I ask you which of these services would you prefer are handled by State Government. There are bound to be some but I encourage you to ask yourself with each of these services which can afford to lose the local influence in favour of a centralized management.