As part of the Minister for Local Government’s Local Government Reform Agenda, one of the main planks of the package, rate capping, has just become law. The Local Government Act Amendment Bill was passed in the Legislative Council and will stop councils raising their rates above a cap, based on the Melbourne Consumer Price Index (CPI), commencing the 2016-17 financial year.

The Bill provides the Essential Services Commission (ESC) greater oversight of council spending, ensuring ongoing compliance and monitoring of overall outcomes for communities.

Some of the key requirements are:

With the emphasis on proving service delivery is efficient and effective, the State Government has just launched the “Know Your Council” website (knowyourcouncil.vic.gov.au).   This website is designed to improve the transparency and accountability of council performance to ratepayers and provides an opportunity to access the performance of local councils across Victoria.

Council Action Required

Consequently, Councils now need to act.  They will need to create a risk intelligent rate capping response framework and supporting methodology tool kit to facilitate decision making, including:

So as usual, there is plenty of change occurring in the local government sector requiring strong vision and leadership.

Councils need to do more with less whilst maintaining the sustainability of a very large asset base.  This will require the industry to challenge itself – review the way it has always operated and question the methods currently used to deliver services.

Most Councils I talk to indicate they will be ok in the next 12 months but beyond that ….   There is uncertainty.

The next short while will require strong leadership, a vision for the future and an appetite to change.  Shared services, cloud computing, ratepayer committees, social media, online service delivery.  All strategies that are worth exploring.

Should you require any further information or wish to discuss this paper, please do not hesitate to contact Jeff Webb on 0437 539 015.  JNW can assist Councils:

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