Wednesday, 20 September 2023 12:13

Welcome initiatives in Minns budget, say councils — but we really need to talk about money Featured

New housing estate in Western Sydney New housing estate in Western Sydney WSROC

The peak body representing councils in Greater Western Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), has applauded the Minns government’s 2023-2024 budget focus on critical infrastructure and housing affordability.

However, Western Sydney councils are urging Premier Minns to meet with them to find better ways to fund the long-term needs of Western Sydney’s rapidly growing population.

“The government’s announcement of a $2.2 billion Housing Infrastructure Plan is a welcome step in the right direction, especially the Minns government’s $1.5 billion commitment to build infrastructure such as roads, parks, hospitals and schools to support the construction of new homes across Sydney,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“Our member councils were very pleased, too, to hear of the government’s $3 billion commitment for long-overdue new and upgraded hospitals in Western Sydney.

“I know, too, many struggling Western Sydney families have welcomed the Premier’s announcement of a $60 weekly toll cap on motorways, as well as the $1 billion investment Sydney Metro City and South West rapid transit project and the $300 million to upgrade trains stations across the transport network to make them more accessible.

“Greater Western Sydney’s population is growing at such a rapid rate that we will need to house more than one million additional people by 2031.

“So, the government’s new $ 38 million Faster Planning Program, $ 224 million Essential Housing Package and $2.2 billion Housing and Infrastructure Plan will all help address the historic neglect of new housing supply across Western Sydney.

“However, our councils will need to find the funds to provide the infrastructure to support housing development to accommodate that extra million people arriving in Western Sydney over the next eight years.

“By 2031, Western Sydney will have more than three million residents. And it will surpass four million by 2041.

“That means the $1.5 billion the government has promised to build infrastructure works out at just $375 per man, woman and child in Australia’s most rapidly growing area.

“That won’t be near enough — and somehow councils will have to find the additional billions of dollars needed to address Western Sydney’s infrastructure and liveability needs.

“The demands of population growth are also putting ever greater financial pressure on councils already trying to cope with a range of increased levies and the rising costs of asset maintenance.

“I’m calling on Premier Minns to meet with WSROC and our member councils to find a way to fix the ongoing financial sustainability crisis confronting local government and does nothing to address the restrictions it puts on council operations and services.

“While Western Sydney councils are determined to keep rates as low as possible, we are also required to deliver services and infrastructure that our communities expect and deserve.

“As councils look to the future, the demands of population growth and other internal and external factors are putting ever greater financial pressure on them.

“Councils and ratepayers will incur significant costs to meet this requirement, with grants provided to councils and fees and charges for council services covering only part of the costs incurred.

“We need the NSW government to join with councils in re-thinking the methodology it employs to calculate the financial needs of councils, including so-called ‘rate capping’.

“With the current annual inflation rate now at nearly 7.0 per cent, the 3.7 per cent rate cap represents a decrease in local communities’ real spending power.

“We need robust, well-resourced councils to ensure that we can deliver for communities – roads libraries, swimming pools and sports fields,” said Councillor Calvert.

Last modified on Friday, 22 September 2023 10:19

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