Bourke Shire Council representatives attend Local Government Conference

Ross Earl, general manager of the Bourke Shire Council, writes:

Far West Initiative. The Mayor Barry Hollman and I attended the 2016 annual conference of Local Government NSW in Wollongong from Sunday October 6 to Tuesday, October 18.

On Monday night the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, hosted the mayors and general managers of the eight councils involved in the Far West Initiative (FWI) at a small function during which we had the opportunity to discuss the current status of the FWI. He also spoke to the conference on Tuesday morning. There a number of changes on the horizon for local government and the conference highlighted a number of those changes.

Emergency Services levy. Council’s input has been sought in relation to the introduction of the new Emergency Services Property (ESPL) which will apply from  July 1, 2017. The idea is that ESPL will ensure that all landowners fund the cost of emergency services and not just those who are insured.

However, the expectation that councils will both charge and collect the levy as part of its rating system has not been universally embraced by the local government sector although it seems that it will happen regardless.

The issue for local government now centres on the ongoing operation of the ESPL. There are still a number of issues to be finalised including the requirement to classify individual blocks of land, the level of payment to councils for the levy and collection, the handling of complaints and the method of collecting outstanding amounts and the apportionment of amounts collected.

NBN. Representatives from the National Broadband Network and its construction partner Downer were in town last week to further develop their plans for the construction of the network in Bourke. Council staff met these representatives to discuss the fibre installation including the timing, reinstatement after the build and layout of council infrastructure. It is expected that the installation of fibre will begin in Bourke in November with much of the work completed by Christmas. Details of the availability of this network to retail customers will follow.