2017 State Election: Policy Priority 8 - Deregulation of Local Government Fees and Charges Thursday, October 27, 2016

Local Government is seeking the deregulation of all Local Government Fees and Charges.

Local Governments are able to impose fees and charges on users of specific, often incidental, services.  Examples include dog registration fees, swimming pool entrance fees, and fees for building and  planning approvals.

Many of these fees are determined by State Government legislation and are of particular concern to
Local Governments as they represent significant revenue leakage due to a lack of indexation, a lack of
regular reviews and a lack of transparent methodology.

Since Local Governments do not have direct control over the determination of fees set by legislation,
this revenue leakage is recovered from rate revenue. This means all ratepayers end up subsidising the
activities of some ratepayers.

When fees and charges are restricted by legislation, rather than being set at cost recovery levels, this
sends inappropriate signals to users of Local Government services, particularly when the consumption
of those services is discretionary. The inability of the State to regularly index or update fees and charges
leads to an inappropriate cost transfer to other ratepayers.

Under the principle of ‘general competence’ there is no reason why Local Governments should not be
empowered to make decisions regarding the setting of fees and charges for specific services.

Funding:
No additional funding is required.

Benefit to the State:
Allowing Local Governments to set fees would increase efficiency, as fees could be set to ‘cost recovery’ or Councils could subsidise activities that provide a social benefit. Further, deregulation of fees would lead to efficiencies due to inter-Local Government competition as members of the community would be able to compare fees across Local Government s.

Responses WALGA has received from political parties:

WA Labor:
WALGA has yet to receive a response.

The Greens WA:
The Greens WA are very supportive of all of the ten priority areas with the focus on improving the quality of life of citizens. This is akin to our principle that Local Government has a valuable role as the third tier of government and in local governance and the representation of local issues and delivery of essential community services.

Liberal Party of WA:
WALGA has yet to receive a response.

The National Party of WA:
The Nationals understand that fees and charges are a significant revenue source for Local Governments. This being the case, The Nationals are also cognisant of the fact that deregulation of Local Government fees and charges for geographically larger Local Governments would not create the competition argued by WALGA in their submission – regional people can’t simply go to the next Local Government area. The Nationals were instrumental in delivering the ‘regional subsidiaries’ model for local governments, which allows the kinds of efficiencies sought by the sector through a different mechanism to complete deregulation of fees and charges.

The Nationals support review of these fee caps to reflect cost recovery, however do not support
complete deregulation of Local Government fees.