Councils unlikely to splash cash

COUNCILS are likely to deny the release of cash reserves and talk about amalgamations to stimulate the state's economy.

Local government was called upon in August at a state government-convened jobs forum to consider these points, which they will do at a Local Government Association of Tasmania meeting at Inveresk tomorrow.

The forum resulted in recommendations to councils that they consider and discuss significant reform, including amalgamations, and that they release a combined $330 million held in cash reserves to encourage economic development.

But LGAT chief executive Allan Garcia has advised that councils refuse these recommendations.

He said that councils were ``fundamentally not of a mind'' to discuss amalgamations, adding that councils have been involved in significant planning scheme and water and sewerage reforms and have set long-term plans for asset and financial management.

``Local government is constantly subject to implementing new reforms designed to bring about improved efficiency and accountability,'' Mr Garcia said.

He said local governments' cash reserves were intended to ensure the long-term viability of the sector's assets.

``Unlike other levels of government, local government is required to fund its depreciation,'' Mr Garcia said.

Constitutional recognition will emerge for discussion at tomorrow's meeting where councils will be asked to decide whether recognition in the Tasmanian Constitution remains a priority.

LGAT was encouraged in 2011 to lobby the state government to ensure that any future constitutional amendments consider recognition of local government in the document.

This was deferred as a priority when a national campaign for financial recognition in the Australian Constitution started this year.

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