The WA Government has earmarked up to $60 million to cover the cost of halving the number of metropolitan councils.
In the first indication the Government has given about what it expects local government reform to cost, today’s State budget included a $60 million provision over three years, comprising a $45 million subsidised loan facility and $15 million in grants.
Treasurer Mike Nahan said the funding would be targeted and used for “necessary structural reform”.
“We’re not going to just hand the money over to local government,” he said.
“We will be open to the local governments coming in and documenting how much they need it.”
The Local Government Advisory Board will complete its report on local government reform in July. Local Government Minister Tony Simpson will then decide whether to accept or reject it.
The funding earmarked in today’s budget is less than what the WA Local Government Association was seeking. In its budget submission WALGA put the cost of reform at between $65 million and $100 million and it is understood the group wanted to see at least 60 per cent of the total cost funded in 2014-15.
Council amalgamations in Queensland in 2008 were estimated to cost nearly $190 million or a median cost of $7.23 million per new council formed.
“As a result we anticipate that each of the ten proposed amalgamations in metropolitan Perth will cost between $6m and $9m in 2014 dollars,” WALGA said in its submission.
“An allocation will also be required to support the significant boundary change proposals expected to affect the cities of Stirling and Melville.
“If the State is to achieve the successful implementation of its ambitions for local government reform, it must provide the necessary budget allocations to resource change.”