Hornsby Shire Council
Attachment to Report No. CC87/08 Page 0
Executive Manager's Report No. CC44/08
Corporate & Community Division
Date of Meeting : 09/07/2008
Item No: Subject:
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE 2008 - SUBMISSIONS OF MOTIONS AND NOMINATIONS OF VOTING DELEGATES
The 2008 Annual Conference of the NSW Local Government Association (LGA) will be held in Broken Hill from 25 October to 29 October 2008. The Conference provides an opportunity for Council to submit motions for debate and decision by delegates from member local governments across New South Wales. Each Division of Council has been provided with an opportunity to prepare draft motions for consideration at this Meeting. The motions are either based on resolutions made by Council over the past 12 months or are issues which ExCo or the individual Divisions consider appropriate. The Report also provides information about the proposed method of determining Council's delegates for the Conference, noting that the first meeting of the new Council elected on 13 September 2008 will occur on 8 October 2008.
The purpose of this Report is to formally adopt motions to be submitted to the Annual Conference by Council and to provide information about the nomination of Council's voting delegates.
At the time of writing this Report, a Conference brochure has yet to be distributed by the LGA to member councils. Council officers have, however, contacted staff of the LGA who have verbally advised that relevant information is expected to be distributed to councils in early July 2008. Those staff have also advised that the general guidelines for the Conference will remain the same as in previous years and confirmed the dates applicable to the submission of motions and the nomination of voting delegates. Should there be any significant variations evident once the Conference material is received, Councillors will be advised of such changes.
Delegates for the Conference
Voting delegate entitlements for each council at the LGA Annual Conference are determined by population of the council area using Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. As Hornsby Shire Council's population is greater than 150,000, it is entitled to seven voting delegates. Council would normally determine its voting delegates for the Conference at the same time as adopting motions to be submitted to the Conference i.e. as part of consideration of this Report. However, noting that the local government elections are to be held on 13 September 2008, it will not be possible for Council to determine its voting delegates until the first meeting of the new Council which is scheduled to be held on 8 October 2008. It is recommended, therefore, that a report be prepared for Council's consideration at the 8 October 2008 Meeting seeking the nomination of Council's voting delegates for the Conference. This will also allow Council to advise the LGA of the voting delegates prior to their deadline of 13 October 2008.
Motions for the Conference
The closing date for submission of motions is 11 August 2008. As such, it is recommended that Council make a determination at tonight's meeting of motions to be submitted for consideration at the LGA Conference.
The LGA have previously advised that motions which seek to vary existing policy or address new or emerging policy issues will be classified as Category One motions and will be scheduled for debate at the Conference by inclusion in the Business Paper. All other motions, which reaffirm existing policy or call for actions to be taken in relation to existing policy, will be classified as Category Two motions. They will also be included in the Conference Business Paper and may be individually brought forward to be debated with the agreement of the Conference, otherwise they will be referred to the Executive of the Association for consideration. Where appropriate, some motions may be actioned before the Conference.
The LGA's 2007 Annual Conference information booklet required that each motion submitted by Council for debate at the Conference be formatted in the manner indicated below. Following discussions with the LGA it is apparent that a similar format will apply for the 2008 Conference. A copy of the 2008 information booklet will be placed on file when received.
• Motion Text -detailing the proposed addition, deletion or introduction of policy
• Note From Council - a summary, explaining the reason for submitting the motion and how it alters or adds to existing policy
• Detailed Supporting Case - this should be on a separate page giving reasons for raising the issue. It will be used by the LGA to progress the matter once Conference has dealt with it. The Supporting Case will not be included in the Business Paper.
(N.B. Only the Subject/Heading, Motion Text and Note From Council are included in the Conference Business Paper)
The following is a set of motions which have been prepared by the relevant Council Divisions for consideration by Council. They are either based on resolutions made by Council over the past 12 months or are issues which ExCo or the individual Divisions have considered appropriate for submission.
Subject: Sustainable Local Infrastructure Funding
That the Local Government Association:
1. Request its members, particularly those in the Greater Metropolitan Area, to withdraw their commitment to housing and employment targets until a new and sustainable infrastructure funding framework is developed and adopted by the State Government and the Association; and
2. That the new framework be based on local government accountability and less Ministerial control, and that it involve either:
a) a reformed rate pegging approach with IPART recommending rate rises; or
b) councils developing endorsed long term infrastructure funding and management plans which will justify rate rises, with expenditure overseen by an independent body such as the Auditor General.
Note from Council
The almost insurmountable problem of financing an immense backlog in infrastructure provision, maintenance and renewal requires a new and sustainable funding framework with growth capacity, greater local government control and accountability and less State Government intervention.
Detailed Supporting Case
There is overwhelming and undisputed evidence that local government in Australia, and in particular NSW, faces almost insuperable challenges in coping with the problem of financing an immense backlog in infrastructure provision, maintenance and renewal. The State Government’s decision to rush through changes to the setting and collection of development contributions without considering their long term impact can only compound the challenges. This is particularly relevant to the provision in a timely way of the services and facilities required by the new population and employees targeted by the government, particularly for the Greater Metropolitan Area.
The State Government’s decision is particularly short-sighted given the:
• findings and recommendations of the 2006 Percy Allan report;
• Australia 2020 Summit’s conclusion that one of the principal determinants of community strength is the adequacy of the physical and social infrastructure in local communities;
• Productivity Commission’s 2008 finding that the State Government has chosen to have more influence on local government revenue raising capacity than other State Governments (with deleterious consequences) and the suggestion for periodic reviews of the restrictions imposed on local government
A review of local and national public inquiries into local government infrastructure funding supports Professor Phibbs of UWS in his assertion that the present arrangements are broken. While Section 94 has operated reasonably well over 30 years, recent experience suggests that it is no longer a sustainable funding source. Other available funding sources, such as rates, have limited growth capacity particularly with Ministerial control. The Government has also been reluctant to approve special levies, imposing tortuous hurdles to their timely implementation. Special purpose grants are largely short term, are unpredictable and usually require matching funds.
It is time for a new and sustainable funding framework based on greater accountability by local government and less control by the State Government.
Subject: Increase in Public Library Funding
That the Local Government Association request a meeting with the Premier of NSW to seek an increase in State Government funding for public libraries so that they are able to continue to provide vital services and programs to the community.
Detailed Supporting Case:
The NSW Public Library Network is a cohesive, state-wide network based on cooperation between local councils, public libraries and the State Library of NSW. Local government meets more than 90% of the costs of the Network. NSW State Government funding of public libraries has fallen drastically in recent decades, from 23% in 1980 to 9% in 2007/08. Such a percentage contribution in 2007/08 compares unfavourably to funding provided to public libraries by other State Governments. For example, in Victoria, which operates a similar public library system to NSW, public libraries received funding from their State Government totalling 20% of their expenditure. Also, in 2007/08, the Victorian state government budgeted for the provision of an extra $2 million to public libraries.
Public libraries play a vital educational, cultural and social role within the community. Libraries provide services and programs to a wide range of groups within the community. There is increasing demand from the community for services and programs along with pressure from changing demographics. These include the provision of technological infrastructure necessary to ensure equitable access to new technologies and e-government initiatives, and the provision of resources to support literacy programs such as the Premier's Reading Challenge. These all place escalating pressure on an already limited budget.
Only with increased funding from the NSW government can public libraries deliver programs that meet community and government needs.
Subject: Provision of Appropriate Market Rental Funds or Significant Capital Funds to Grant Funded Programmes in Order to Reduce their Reliance on Local Government to Subsidise Rental Costs.
That the Local Government Association call on the NSW and Federal Governments to increase rental and capital funding provided to non-government and community based organisations that auspice and implement state and federally funded programmes such that the funds provided meet market rental requirements.
Note from Council
Hire fees and charges for Council owned and operated facilities are heavily subsidised and reflect a partial cost recovery ethos.
The lack of funding associated with rental or capital costs within available grants places a requirement on non-government and community based organisations that auspice and implement grant funded programmes to seek fee waivers or free accommodation from local government or other organisations in order to accommodate the funded services.
Subject: Use of Variable Message Signs in Road Reserves
That the Local Government Association seek alterations to the relevant legislation to limit the use of variable message signs in road reserves to matters associated with road safety and traffic management only.
Note from Council
Council has become aware of the increasing use of the variable message signs in road reserves for advertising purposes. These signs are regularly placed in locations of high traffic concentration, such as at intersections, where the variable messages displayed (sometimes flashing with moving text) can easily distract drivers from the driving task. Further, drivers have become accustomed to seeing such signs used to convey messages relating to road conditions and/or safety matters. The short term nature of many advertising displays means that it is not feasible to pursue the removal of these signs under existing environmental legislation, and enforcement action (fines, etc) whilst providing a deterrent, will not create a safer environment for drivers. It is understood that the Tasmanian government has recently enacted legislation that achieves this purpose. There is no objection to the display of such signs in locations that are not visible from a road.
Subject: Bus Stops - Compliance with Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
That the Local Government Association make representations to the State Government requesting financial support to councils when implementing improvements to bus stops required to ensure they are DDA compliant.
Note from Council
Councils are in the process of ensuring that bus stops in their areas comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The provision of suitable public transport facilities in a council area has become an increasing responsibility of councils notwithstanding that the Ministry of Transport actively controls bus routes and public transport matters. The increasing emphasis on the use of public transport as a substitute for private vehicle based transport imposes additional cost considerations on councils where such costs have not previously been required. For many councils the cost of upgrading bus stops in their area to full compliance with DDA requirements is likely to be significant. Financial assistance would be seen as support by the state for councils' actions in delivering improved public transport which is essentially a state government responsibility.
Subject: Enforcement - Moving Traffic Offences
That the Local Government Association make representations to the State Government to provide council rangers with authorisation to enforce ‘No Right Turn’ and ‘U Turn over barrier lines' offences in school zones.
Note from Council
Currently, Council rangers are not authorised to enforce ‘No Right Turn’ and ‘U Turn over barrier lines' offences. The active patrolling of school zones and parking activities near schools is seen as a priority by many councils. Council rangers are regularly on site and may enforce parking provisions in association with local school communities. The ability to also enforce certain moving traffic offences in school zones would provide additional encouragement for safe driving and parking practices in these critical locations. It is understood that local police may have other higher priority matters to attend to at times when pedestrian activity at schools is high, and the flexibility available to council rangers to enforce such offences would contribute to improved safety at schools.
Subject: Disabled Parking Spaces
The Local Government Association support the introduction of time restricted disabled parking spaces in certain limited circumstances.
Note from Council
Council wishes to provide short term parking for the disabled in close proximity to shops and other locations where short term parking is desirable. Current legislation discourages Council from taking such action, as the provision of such parking for the disabled could be used for all day parking by commuters, contrary to its desired function. The added flexibility created by establishing a separate class of disabled parking where time restrictions can be implemented in consultation with local Access Committees, would be to the advantage of the disabled community generally.
Subject: Amendment of the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act
That the Local Government Association lobby the Commonwealth Government to amend the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 to encourage more sustainable transport practices.
Note from Council
Fringe benefits tax concessions on employer-provided motor vehicles promotes greater usage and results in higher greenhouse emissions. Council is calling on the Federal government to encourage greater use of public transport by exempting it from fringe benefits tax and to amend the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 to promote more sustainable vehicle use.
Detailed Supporting Case
Fringe benefits tax on employer-provided motor vehicles currently encourages people to drive further which is inconsistent with attempts to promote greenhouse friendly practices of reduced vehicle use and increased public transport use. According to the National Transport secretariat, company cars constitute 40% of cars during peak hour and 18% of total car trips. In many councils and companies cars are offered to staff as a part of their salary package and require them to travel 25,000 kilometres each year in order to achieve a lower tax rate. If a staff member is having difficulty reaching the specific amount of kilometres they often swap vehicles with someone who drives more often or travels greater distances to reach the required mileage.
This fringe benefits tax arrangement arose out of an attempt to save smaller companies from having to estimate what proportion of their company vehicle use was for business purposes and what proportion was for personal use by filling out time-consuming logbooks. The system changed by assuming that the more kilometres travelled the greater the proportion of business use, and the fringe benefits tax payable should consequently be lower, for example:
- less than 15,000 kilometres, 26% is considered to be personal and the fringe benefits tax is 26% of the value of the car;
- between 15,000 and 25,000 kilometres, the fringe benefit tax is 20%;
- more than 40,000 kilometres, the fringe benefits tax is 7% of the value of the car.
Employer-provided car parking is also exempt from fringe benefits tax in many situations, despite the clear financial benefit that it provides to employees. If public transport tickets or bicycles are offered as fringe benefits, they are taxed at the full fringe benefits tax rate of 48.5% - clearly inequitable with the 7-26% rate applied to cars. In effect the government is encouraging driving motor vehicles and discouraging cycling or public transport use and therefore contributing to higher pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Some examples of current practices around the world to encourage environmentally friendly transport use are:
- The UK, who previously used the same method as is currently used in Australia, now calculates fringe benefits tax based on the amount of CO2 that a car emits - the more CO2 emitted, the higher the tax.
- In the USA, employers can give their employees tax-free public transport vouchers, passes or fares valued at up to $100 each month. A study carried out in Canada found that these amendments would result in a net benefit from a reduction in required road maintenance, air pollution and traffic congestion.
Council is calling on the Federal government to encourage greater use of public transport by exempting public transport from fringe benefits tax and to amend the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 to encourage more sustainable vehicle use.
Funds have been allocated in the 2008/09 Budget for attendance at the Annual Conference.
Attendance at the Annual Conference will be in accordance with the Councillors' Expenses and Facilities Policy. There are no other policy implications other than those raised in the context of the Local Government Association policy.
Consultation has been undertaken with each Division in respect of possible motions for the Conference. Regard has also been given to Council resolutions over the past 12 months
TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE SUMMARY
Triple Bottom Line is a framework for improving Council decisions by ensuring accountability and transparency on social, environmental and economic factors. It does this by reporting upon Council’s strategic themes.
As this Report simply provides Council with information and does not propose any actions which require a sustainability assessment, no Triple Bottom Line considerations apply.
The officer responsible for the preparation of this Report is the Administration Coordinator - Ruth Robins who can be contacted on 9847 6011.
1. Endorse the submission of motions included in this Report to the Local Government Association for consideration at the 2008 Annual Conference.
2. Determine if it wishes to submit any additional motions for discussion at the 2008 Annual Conference of the Local Government Association.
3. Note that a further report will be prepared for consideration at the 8 October 2008 Ordinary Meeting to determine voting delegates for the 2008 Annual Conference of the Local Government Association.
ROBYN ABICAIR GARY BENSLEY
Manager Executive Manager
Administration Services Branch Corporate and Community Division
File(s) required for Meeting: F2004/09974