Marshall Government’s new plan to drive down council rates and costs

South Australian families and businesses will benefit from lower council rates under the Marshall Liberal Government’s new plan to reform the local government sector and drive down costs.

Some of the key proposed cost saving initiatives include;

  • A new mechanism to cap council rate rises following independent advice;
  • Cracking down on bad council behaviour helping to reduce the approximately $13 million legal fee bill councils pass on to ratepayers each year;
  • Capping council CEO salaries through the Remuneration Tribunal;
  • Capping the number of councillors to 12 per council, saving approximately $666,000 per year; and,
  • Removing the need for a supplementary election if required within 12 months of the periodic election (which would have saved ratepayers over $150,000 in 2018).

“Our local government reforms focus on four key pillars, lower costs, better council behaviour, more transparency and reducing red tape,” said Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll.

“The focus is squarely on providing hip pocket relief for hardworking families and businesses.

“We’ve been working with the local government sector on these reforms for around 18 months and think we have the right formula to keep costs down and improve service delivery.

“The new rate capping mechanism strikes the right balance between keep council rates down and giving councils the freedom and flexibility to manage their own budget to deliver important services for the community.

“Our reforms will also deliver a faster and more effective way to resolve repeated or serious misbehaviour by councillors through the Behavioural Standards Panel.

“The Panel will be able to crack down on rogue council behaviour which won’t be tolerated under our reforms and suspend members for up to three months for repeated or serious misbehaviour.

“Currently, councils can spend thousands of dollars getting a complaint assessed to determine whether it should be investigated or not, then tens of thousands of dollars on investigation by lawyers.

“I think it’s fair to say that legal fees that get billed to South Australian ratepayers due to council infighting and bad behaviour has run into the millions of dollars.

“Capping the number of councillors able to be elected per council and capping council CEO salaries will also help reduce cost pressures on councils that they can pass on to ratepayers.”

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