The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) is gearing up to launch its State Election Strategy at this month’s Annual General Meeting in Adelaide on 16 November.
High on their list of priorities is a request for all political parties to commit to collecting their own Natural Resources Management (NRM) Levy if they are successful in forming government at the March 2018 state election.
Councils are currently legislatively required to collect the NRM Levy on behalf of the State Government.
LGA President Lorraine Rosenberg said that councils shouldn’t be responsible for collecting this tax for another sphere of government.
“Many ratepayers mistake increases to the NRM Levy for increased council charges, because the levy is administered through their rates notices.
“While this revenue is included in the calculation of total revenue received by local government in South Australia, we do not have access to the funding. It is provided by councils directly to the State Government for State Government programs.
“There are also hidden administrative costs to councils collecting the levy, especially in relation to non-payment and rebates.
“Astoundingly, the SA Liberal Party are proposing to cap council rates increases while continuing to use these rates to collect a State Government tax.”
“We would be happy to work with the government of the day and State Parliament to look at opportunities for improving Natural Resources Management, but don’t want to see costs shifted to councils.”
As Australia’s housing affordability crisis shows no signs of alleviating, local governments are becoming increasingly proactive in looking for new housing solutions. Read more >
The City of Unley in South Australia has teamed up with Prospect-based co-working enterprise Little City to provide a co-working space to help accommodate the area’s growing number of local entrepreneurs. Read more >
The prospect of finding new solutions to community problems like barking dogs and efficiency in managing vehicle fleets has driven local councils to embrace a new data analytics tool launched by the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ).
The tool, dubbed LG Sherlock, promises to help local councils analyse the huge amounts of data they hold to find innovative ways to save money and become more efficient in serving their communities.
LG Sherlock, launched at the LGAQ annual conference in Gladstone in October, relies on the information created by smart technologies associated with meters, lights, pumps, switches, vehicle tracking and Wi-Fi to produce insights that could help resolve issues affecting local communities.
LGAQ President Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said early trials of LG Sherlock had identified as much as $5 million in potential savings for councils.
He said LG Sherlock was a tool that councils needed to put their data to work, to connect it to other data, and to convert the combined and collated information back into “practical, useful insights” into the way they did business.
“This information is too valuable to leave sitting on the shelf – untapped and under-utilised,’’ he said.
“LG Sherlock aims to make sense of all this data. It will centralise the data, get it working together and get it producing insights.”
Councils could use the new tool to help with challenges like animal management and, in particular, barking dogs, one of the most common issues for councils across Queensland.
LG Sherlock has the capacity to tell councils not only which dog breeds bark the most, but in what places, at what times, under what weather conditions.
Such information could be fed back into council animal management plans and their communications with dog owners and breeders.
LG Sherlock was developed for the LGAQ by data analytics experts at consultants Accenture and Amazon Web Services.
The Inner West Council has launched a new app to help refugees and asylum seekers settle in to the area.
Mayor Darcy Byrne said the app was designed to make it easier for refugees and people seeking asylum to find services and information about local places and activities.
“With a large number of newly arrived people living, working and visiting our local area and it’s important we help them to start their new lives,” Mayor Byrne said.
“This innovative New Locals Inner West app is a digital directory that is specific to our local inner west area to give people the local help, advice and assistance they need when they need it most.
“There are over 200 entries or listed services in the app with information ranging from how to access language classes, where to go to find second hand furniture and other goods to set up a household, finding food that is culturally appropriate and free activities for kids.
“People will be able to search the app by key word, find information via key headings and categories and use the map search function to find out activities nearby via Google maps.
“The app is free to download and will be launched in both English and Arabic and it is envisaged that other languages will be added following a 12-month trial of the initiative.”
The app was developed by Council in partnership with the Asylum Seeker Centre and with the support from Settlement Services International.
The material contained in the app was researched and prepared by 11 local volunteers who were keen to use their knowledge to assist others in the community.
The app ‘New Locals Inner West’ app can be downloaded free from the app store.