FUNDING for State Emergency Service units will not be pared back in Frankston if the state government’s planned rate capping policy comes into force next financial year.
Some Victorian councils, such as Cardinia Shire Council, have reportedly threatened to cut SES funding if Labor goes ahead with its plan to limit future rate rises to inflation costs.
When asked by The Times, Frankston mayor Cr Sandra Mayer said council will continue to support the Frankston SES unit.
“Council’s funding for the Frankston SES was approximately $46,500 in 2014-15 through the community grants program, and the same amount is recommended in the draft 2015-16 budget.
“This funding helps with building insurance premiums, vehicle maintenance and operational costs, all of which assist the SES in providing a vital service to our community.”
Victorian councils fear some frontline services may have to be slashed when the Andrews government’s rate capping policy is introduced in the 2016-17 financial year.
Frankston Council has made its submission to an Essential Services Commission review of the state government’s proposed rate capping plan, a pre-election pledge by Labor.
Council CEO Dennis Hovenden wrote a letter to the ESC last month making council’s submission but noted tight timelines and “less than one month’s consultation does got give Frankston City Council the time to fully consider all issues” related to rate capping.
Council’s submission argues the level of community service “will deteriorate and infrastructure will be run down”.
The submission also claims CPI [consumer price index] rise is not an appropriate index of council costs since staff enterprise bargaining agreements costs, for example, are often higher.
The latest EBA rise for council staff was 3.25 per cent. Mr Hovenden received a near 10 per cent hike to his remuneration in April (‘Council pay up as rates rise’, The Times 16/4/15).
“Salary costs represent 50 per cent of council’s expenditure,” the CEO noted.
Cost shifting from federal and state governments to councils the funding of services such libraries, home care, school crossing supervision, foreshore management and maternal and child health and pre-school service is also a factor not considered by the state government, according to Frankston Council.
Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins told Parliament last Thursday (28 May) that there have been 252 submissions to the ESC regarding the local government rate capping plan.