Local government underfunded says Sullivan

Local Government Minister Kerry Hickey and Shires Association of NSW president Col Sullivan at the Associations divisional meeting in Casino on Wednesday.

A divisional meeting of the Shires Association of NSW in Casino on Tuesday brought up many issues, but the running theme was that local government is chronically underfunded.

NSW Local Government Minister Kerry Hickey and Shadow Local Government Minister John Turner visited Casino for the meeting, where the hot topics proved to be rate pegging and infrastructure.

Shires Association of NSW president and Richmond Valley councillor Col Sullivan called on state politicians to restore the country towns water and sewerage program.

State funding is $400 million behind schedule and over 200 water and sewerage schemes around the state remain unfunded, he said. Theres also the problem of the $100 million timber bridge replacement program being withdrawn well be working hard to get that program reinstated.

Kerry Hickey claimed the Coalitions pledge to review the policy of rate pegging would give the green light for massive rate increases.

At present, rates are set at 3.5 per cent and councils have the flexibility to apply to the Minister to increase rates through special rate variations, he said. But councils must demonstrate how they will spend that extra money. It is a transparent and accountable process that has delivered certainty to ratepayers for 30 years.

John Turner defended the pegging review.

The requests for increases above the pegged amount would go to an independent board instead of the Minister, he said.

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