Council fears revenue loss

CONCERNS changes to Crown Lands legislation could result in cost-shifting and potential loss of revenue for commercial activities, including council-run caravan parks, are expected to be raised in an upcoming submission by Kiama Council.

Following a report by general manager Michael Forsyth to the April meeting, the council resolved to make a submission relating to the Crown Lands White Paper.

The submission would seek further consultation by the state government with local government, and oppose any proposals for transferral of responsibility of Crown Lands "without proper and fair consideration of financial implications for councils".

The Crowns Land Management Review began in June 2012, proposing one new piece of legislation replace the eight existing acts.

"The section of the White Paper of most relevance to councils is the streamlining of decision making at the local level," the general manager wrote.

"Thousands of Crown Reserves are currently managed by local communities under trust arrangements, which require councils and community trusts to comply with complex, duplicative and sometimes contradictory requirements."

The paper states that it is proposed this be streamlined so that Crown Land will be managed by the most appropriate level of government.

Four of the municipality's five caravan parks are located on Crown Land. The council can't use proceeds from those for the council's general purpose uses, but can to help maintain their Crown Reserves.

Mr Forsyth and mayor Brian Petschler have expressed concerns regarding "any change to Crown Lands legislation which could have a significant impact on our rates".

At the meeting, the general manager described the paper as "somewhat wishy-washy".

"Land with primarily local uses and values will be managed by councils under local government legislation using the same procedures applied to land already owned by councils," he wrote.

"While a number of proposals in the White Paper including the streamlining of legislation, reduction of red tape and more local community input into the management of Crown Lands are commendable, there are a number of issues that require further detail to enable effective comment.

"It is proposed to transfer 'local' Crown Lands to councils for management.

"There is concern in regard to cost-shifting in that this may result in ongoing management and maintenance costs for councils without the opportunity for income to offset these costs.

"There is also concern regarding the future management of commercial activities such as holiday parks."

The council's submission is proposed to raise concerns in relation to cost-shifting and potential loss of revenue for commercial activities needed for the management and maintenance of Crown Lands.

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