Promoting Better Practice in Local Government

1. The Council should prepare and implement whole of council policy and procedure to ensure all of its legislative and regulatory obligations are met on an ongoing basis.

2. The Council should better align its ‘Policy for the Payment and the Provision of facilities for the Mayor and Councillors’ with the ‘Guidelines for the payment of expenses and the provision of facilities for Mayors and Councillors in NSW’,
Division of Local Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet, October 2009.

3. The Council is encouraged to continue work to better resource the individual activities of its Delivery Program.

4. The Council is encouraged to strengthen its Operational Plan by the including target and baseline information in the measures and targets.

5. The Council should ensure that future revisions to the Asset Management Strategy and Long Term Financial Plan adequately address the issue of asset maintenance and renewal to prevent a cumulative impact on the Council’s financial sustainability.

6. In proceeding with the option of applying for a special levy (Special Rate Variation), the Council is encouraged to use the guidelines that the Division has prepared to assist councils in this area.

7. The Council is encouraged to continue to work toward reducing the average time it takes to assess development applications.

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Friendly Cities

Council recently considered a proposal for Councillors and staff to visit towns in Italy. Council had already entered into a Global Friendship/Sister Cities agreement with Guardia Sanframondi, a small hamlet in the mountains behind Naples. There is a relatively large community in Willoughby who migrated from this area. It was also proposed that Councilors and staff meet with Vetrona while they were in Italy.

The plan was that the Mayors costs be met by Council and everyone else would need to pay their own way. There was debate on this matter before it was decided that only the trip to Guardia Sanframondi would be endorsed by Council.

Clr. Mustaca is planning on going on the trip (at his own expense). The motion was moved by the two remaining West Ward Councillors (Mustaca and Saville)

Council Mergers

1 plus 1Councils are being ‘urged to merge’. Proposals are to merge the 42 Sydney Councils into 10 or 15 larger Councils. There is evidence from other States that Council mergers can return significant benefits. In our area, Willoughby Council is being urged to merge with Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Mosman, and North Sydney. When Willoughby Council was first chartered it included the current area of Lane Cove Council. A large part of the council area was also known as North Sydney.

Currently, Willoughby Council is part of the Northern Regional Organisation of Councils. This includes: Willoughby, Hornsby, Ryde, Kur-ring-gai, Lane Cove Hunters Hill and North Sydney. For planning purposes, Willoughby is part of a regional group comprising Willoughby, Ryde, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill, North Sydney and Mosman.

At this stage, Council mergers are voluntary. However, in the future it is likely that Councils will be denied access to funds unless they merge.

Another issue with Council mergers is local representation (the number of Councillors). In the past many Councils have held referendums about the number of Councillors and Wards. Largely, people have voted to reduce numbers. Take for instance West Ward. There are only two of the three elected Councillors servicing the Ward.

The biggest issue with voluntary mergers is that both senior Council staff and Councillors would be concerned that they may ‘lose their job’.

It will be interesting to see how the State Government progresses this matter.

 

Referendum on Local Government

REFERENDUM: CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

It is proposed to amend the Constitution to read: The Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State, or to any local government body formed by a law of a State, on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.”

Against case: The proposed changes are not a good idea as it will undermine the Authority of the States and will increase the Commonwealth’s power.

For case: In the recent past there have been two court cases where the Commonwealth’s ability to directly fund the delivery of a a myriad of social services by Local Government bodies (such as local Councils). Changing the Constitution as proposed will ensure many social services can continue.

Please consider the detailed information handed out on election day on this matter.