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Council reform talks a priority for 2015

Local Government Association of Tasmania president and Dorset Council Mayor Barry Jarvis said the year would see some tough discussions. Picture: Mark JesserAMALGAMATIONS and council funding are at the top of the agenda for local councils this year.

According to Local Government Association of Tasmania president Barry Jarvis, the year would see some tough discussions and hard decisions made among councils as the state government begins talks around reforms.

The Dorset Council Mayor said although the state government had been openly refused to force amalgamations, the fact it was holding regional meetings next month definitely demonstrated its interest in the matter.

“We believe a lot of resource sharing has been through necessity rather than strategic,” Mr Jarvis said.

“We believe resource sharing should be bigger, so whether it’s on a regional or statewide basis, that’s what we need to look at.”

It’s something they would consider in a national context, he said.

Future funding was the other hot item to tackle this year, with a freeze on federal financial assistance grants, councils will feel the squeeze and have to be prepared to make the hard decisions.

Mr Jarvis said nationally, councils would be funded 13 per cent less by 2018, with Dorset to see a loss of about $430,000 over three years.

Getting rid of the freeze on FAGs by 2018 would be imperative to the association this year he said.

Mr Jarvis said they would also keep an eye on the outcome of two federal papers to be released, one on federation and the other taxation, that could see all council funding go through the state government instead of direct to councils through grants, such as Roads to Recovery.

This comes as it has been revealed the Victorian government is considering putting a cap on rate increases to inflation levels from 2016-17.

Councils seeking to raise rates after that time would have to seek an exemption that would cover natural disasters and federal funding cuts. Mr Jarvis said he did not support the push because councils would not be able to maintain their assets long term.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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