SA councils push to change NRM Levy collection process

THE obligation for councils to collect the state government's Natural Resources Management Levy could be eliminated when the NRM Act is replaced by a new Landscape SA Bill.

Councils are legislatively required to collect the levy on behalf of the state government but the Local Government Association (LGA) has advocated strongly in recent years for the obligation on councils to collect the levy to be removed.

LGA president Sam Telfer said most councils did not agree with the mandate for councils to collect the levy and the association was in discussions with all parties about possible amendments.

"We have a good opportunity, with rewriting the legislation, to get everything right," he said.

He said the LGA wanted to include amendments to make collecting the levy optional, or negotiable.

Councils get a small amount of money from the state government to collect the levy each year but are often left out of pocket.

"Calculations are made by councils on the number of assessments at the start of the year and they pay the equivalent amount to the state government, but when there are changes, like not as much development as expected, they lose money," Mr Telfer said.

"Also, when rates are issued to ratepayers who might have bad debt and are not paying rates, they are also not paying the levy which is a cost councils just can't recoup."

He said with the potential local government reform and the extent of state to local government cost shifting not known, it was important to be transparent.

This story Time to change levy collection first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.