Cowra councillors lash out at cost increase to run 2020 election

Cowra councillors lash out at cost increase to run 2020 election

Cowra councillors have lashed out at the state government's plans to increase the cost of running the next election in September 2020.

According to General Manager Paul Devery's report to council, the NSW Government agreed to fund core costs to the tune on $19.9 million following an IPART review into local government election costs earlier this year.

However estimates show the cost to Cowra Council is set to come in at $127,287, a 36 per cent increase on council's budget provision of $96,509 for the election.

"Subsequent discussions with the NSW Electoral Commission indicate they are unable to explain how IPART arrived at their cost estimates," Mr Devery said.

"This is concerning and disappointing and would appear to cast some doubt over the veracity of the IPART report and by extension the Government's response."

Councillor Bruce Miller said "in the good old days" when local councils would run their own elections, the process was more streamlined and attracted more candidates.

"If it wasn't so serious, we would just laugh at it," Cr Miller said.

"We used to have 28 to 30 people on the ballot paper."

He also said it was "another cost shift" from the state government, citing examples such as the increases to the Emergency Services Levy.

"It's laughable and we should say so... this is a joke."

According to the IPART report, there will be an average increase of 51 per cent in council bills compared to the 2016-2017 elections.

"This is in part due to general inflation and growth in the number of electors. It is also due to the removal of opaque government subsidies of the NSWEC's costs and some increases in efficient costs," the report said.

Councillor Judi Smith also noted that the increase would interfere with the set budgets of local councils across the state.

"Not only is it another instance of cost shifting, it's another instance of disrespect for council budget processes," she said.

"A complete disrespect for a prudent operational plan... I find it extremely insulting."

Council resolved to write to the Minister for Local Government, Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke and LGNSW to express concern at the cost increase.

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