Addressing cost shift

By James Bennett

Berrigan Shire Council has highlighted areas where state cost shifting is having an impact locally.

Last week Local Government NSW reported local ratepayers across the state were paying up to $820 million each year on infrastructure and services that should be paid for by the state government.

According to LGNSW, cost shifting occurs when state and federal governments force councils to assume responsibility for infrastructure, services and regulatory functions without providing sufficient supporting funding.

Berrigan Shire director of corporate services Matt Hansen said one ‘‘prime example’’ of cost shifting for the Berrigan Shire comes from National Parks and Wildlife NSW.

‘‘They don’t provide a place for campers to properly dispose of their rubbish,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re forced to spend up to $100,000 for skips and rubbish bins when essentially it should be the state government providing that.

‘‘And we have no choice but to remove that rubbish.

LGNSW believe over the last 10 years $6.2 billion has come from local government ratepayers.

Mr Hansen said it was too hard to determine the exact amount the Berrigan Shire ratepayers have paid on average.

He said it’s not just cost of government services that are going up but costs out of the Berrigan Shire’s control that are increasing.

‘‘Running a local government election is continuing to rise and our financial audit has risen 50 per cent — and is expected to rise again next year.

‘‘The NSW government forces us to do the audit from the one outlet and that cost is driving up.

‘‘These are mainly a financial burden on the Berrigan Shire.

‘‘And all local governments are being backed into a corner...

‘‘In most of these cases it’s the ratepayer that’s paying for these and not coming from state taxes.

‘‘You might think rates are going up and maybe the saving on state taxes are decent.

‘‘However since so much has been shifted to local government, you aren’t really saving anything.

‘‘It’s not really compromising...

‘‘However I would say it’s to some degree restricting us from doing what we’re doing.

‘‘Other than changing over from the former Community Health Service to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, most cost shifting comes from state government, where to switch to the NDIS was federal.

Mr Hansen said moving forward there need to be a commitment to consult with the Berrigan Shire to help determine budgeting costs.