Schedule of Hearings and Visits.
Under Section 11 of the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995, a state is not entitled to receive its grants unless the state's local government grants commission has held public hearings in connection with the recommendations and permitted or required local governing bodies in the state, or associations of those bodies, to make submissions to it in connection with the recommendations.
In accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 requirement to hold public hearings the Commission holds advertised annual hearings in regional centres at which councils and the general public can attend. All councils are invited to participate in the consultation process and attend regional hearings.
In parallel with the annual hearings program, the Commission also conducts a rolling program of council visits. Each year the Commission offers approximately one third of all councils a visit by the Commission. This program is aimed at the Commission visiting every council at least once every three years.
In 2020, invitations for Commission visits were issued to the following councils:
- South: Clarence City Council, Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, Hobart City Council and Tasman Council
- North: Break O’Day Council, Dorset Council, Meander Valley Council
- North West: King Island Council, Devonport City Council, Latrobe Council.
Current Research Focus
Over the past two years, the Commission has been considering how different demographic groups present challenges for councils beyond the standard service delivery cost for its population, and the adequacy of the Commission's Unemployment Cost Adjustor in assessing this impact. As a result of this work, the Commission designed a draft cost adjustor based on the Socio-Economic Indexes For Areas (SEIFA) using the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD) measure and modelled the potential impact of such a cost adjustor in the Commission's Base Grant Model compared to the Commission's existing Unemployment Cost Adjustor. The Commission consulted with councils on the draft cost adjustor.
Following consideration of feedback on the draft cost adjustor, the Commission has made some minor amendments, and has now made its preliminary decision on the form of its SEIFA based Cost Adjustor, which will replace the Unemployment Cost Adjustor at the conclusion of the 2019-22 Triennium. The Commission is circulating this proposal to councils to seek final views on this methodology change and inform councils of the methodology change prior to its implementation.
Further details are available in the Commission Decision CD20-01 Socio-Economic Factors in the Base Grant Model - Replacement of the Unemployment Cost Adjustor with a SEIFA based Cost Adjustor paper.
Over the past two years the Commission has also been progressing its review into the impact of non-residents on councils. The Commission has decided that the current manner of recognising the impact of non-residents on councils using the Regional Responsibility Cost Adjustor needs to change. The 2020 Discussion Paper DP20-01 Regional Responsibility Non-Resident Impacts - The Bigger Picture, canvases a number of scenarios for progressing this review, including a proposal to adopt a new “Regional Service Industry" Cost Adjustor as a replacement to the Commission's Regional Responsibility Cost Adjustor and Worker Influx Cost Adjustor.
During 2019, the Commission also considered a proposal for an island isolation adjustor. Following consideration of a detailed submission from an island council, the Commission undertook a benchmarking exercise of the Commission's current methodology against another Grants Commission's independent assessment of horizontal fiscal equalisation for an island council. While different in detail, the review found that the methodologies produced broadly similar per capital relative needs assessments. As a result the Commission has determined that an island disadvantage cost adjustor is not needed in the Commission's Base Grant Methodology.
Written submissions on the above matters are due by 28 February 2020. Councils will also have the opportunity to provide verbal submissions, discuss their written submissions, and raise other matters of interest with the Commission at the 2020 Hearings and Visits. These have been organised to occur from 28 January 2020 to 11 March 2020.
In addition to any discussion papers, work plans and any conversation starter topics prepared by the Commission, councils are always invited to raise other relevant issues with the Commission as part of the annual hearings and visits program.
For details on the outcome and decisions made by the Commission following the 2019 Hearings and Visits discussions, please refer to Section 4 of the State Grants Commission 2018-19 Annual Report Including 2019-20 Financial Assistance Grant Recommendations